ABOARD USS HARRY S. TRUMAN, At Sea (NNS) -- In the early stages of the conflict with Iraq, 24-hour news channels have been mainstays on televisions throughout USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75).
The news, in almost play-by-play fashion, shows images of ground troops moving into strategic positions across the Iraqi border, the exchange of missile and bomb fire at night, and the empty streets of Baghdad while the sirens sound.
But as officials try to determine the extent of the damage to the Iraqi side so far, Sailors and Marines aboard Truman are taking the situation in stride, knowing they have been called upon to do their jobs and stay at the highest state of readiness.
“We’ve been training for this, and we’ve expected it to happen. Now it’s finally here,” said Aviation Electronics Technician 3rd Class Bradley Asten of the emabarked Fighter Attack Squadron (VFA) 37. “It means paying even closer attention to detail to what you’re doing.”
Less than 72 hours into conflict, coalition forces suffered their first casualties when four U.S. Marines died in a CH-46 Sea Knight helicopter crash along with eight British soldiers.
“It’s an occupational hazard,” said Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 115 Maintenance Material Control Chief Master Sgt. Nathaniel Monroe. “Accidents happen in the aviation field, and people get killed - even training accidents happen. What happened was an accident. Unfortunately, it occurred at this time.”
Monroe, a veteran of the first Gulf War knows the importance of training for conflict. “What we do in training is harder than what we are doing now that war has started. When it comes to the real situation, then you understand why you do the things you do. We train so it becomes second nature.”
Despite the accident, Monroe said the attitude of the Marines hasn’t changed. “We’re still focused on the task at hand. We take orders from the admiral who takes orders from people above him ... he’s got a lot of weight on his shoulders right now, and we’re here to support him and our commander in chief.”
Regardless of recent events, Monroe and his Marines know what they need to do. “It’s all about successfully completing the mission and the mission is liberating the Iraqi people.”
For related news, visit the USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) Navy NewsStand page at www.news.navy.mil/local/cvn75.