MINNEAPOLIS (NNS) -- Divers from Mobile Diving and Salvage Unit (MDSU) 2 from Naval Amphibious Base Little Creek in Norfolk, Va., completed their part of the I-35 bridge collapse recovery efforts in Minneapolis Aug. 21.
The 17 divers and a five-person command and control element from Navy Expeditionary Combat Command spent 15 days working with local, state and federal authorities to find the missing victims of the collapse.
"We came to do our job and we did not want to leave any families with questions unanswered about what happened to their loved ones," said Master Chief Navy Diver (MDV/SCW) Henry Stark.
The divers' efforts helped in the recovery of eight victims missing since the collapse. Hennepin County Sheriff Richard W. Stanek expressed that those involved in the rescue "all have very heavy hearts," but were relieved that the missing victims were located.
Several officials, including President George W. Bush and Secretary of Transportation Mary E. Peters thanked the divers for their efforts both in the search and recovery process as well as for the compassion they showed the families.
"You did incredible work but you also showed incredible compassion for the families," said Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak. "I know a little bit about the conditions you had to work in and the families obviously knew too. They've been one by one thanking you from the bottom of their hearts. They really appreciate the work you did."
The divers spent Aug. 21 and 22 packing and loading their equipment, assisted by the 133rd Aerial Port Squadron, assigned to the 133rd Airlift Wing, Minnesota Air National Guard. They are scheduled to return to Norfolk by the end of the week.
"It's been a learning experience," Navy Diver 1st Class(DSW/SW) Joshua Harsh said. "You can't even begin to express to the families how much time and effort you put into doing your job and how it was all worth it in the end because you know you helped give closure to the families."
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