Nimitz, Air Wing Sailors Gather to Remember Shipmates

Story Number: NNS090529-02Release Date: 5/29/2009 5:48:00 AM
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By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Scott A. McCall, USS Nimitz Public Affairs

USS NIMITZ, At Sea (NNS) -- Crew members from the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68) and Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 11 honored five shipmates during a memorial service May 23; the Sailors were killed when their HH-60H Seahawk helicopter went down in the Pacific Ocean May 19.

Those remembered were: Lt. Cmdr. Eric J. Purvis, Lt. Allison M. Oubre, Naval Air Crewman 1st Class (AW/NAC) Samuel "Grant" Kerslake, Naval Air Crewman 2nd Class (AW/NAC) Aaron L. Clingman and Naval Air Crewman 3rd Class (AW/NAC) Sean M. Ward.

"There are no words anyone can say that can adequately express the sorrow that we all feel for the families, friends and loved ones of our fellow shipmates," said Cmdr. Wesley McCall, commanding officer, Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron (HS) 6 "Indians." "All we can do is offer our most sincere heart-felt sympathy and hope that in some way it helps them through their grieving process."

Those honored during the memorial service were for lauded for their commitment, determination and stellar service as part of the air wing and strike group - and Navy.

"The outstanding Americans that we lost that dark evening were the best of the best in all respects - the backbone of this command and future leaders in the helicopter community and the entire Navy," said McCall.

"Throughout a lifetime, I believe you are seldom blessed with the opportunity to work with professionals with the caliber of those five individuals. I am personally humbled and honored, as are all the 'Indians' from HS-6, to be given the opportunity to serve alongside them."

The squadron is part of the Nimitz Carrier Strike Group (CSG), commanded by Rear Adm. John W. Miller. The CSG is comprised of the staff of Commander, CSG 11; Nimitz; its embarked air wing, CVW 11; embarked Destroyer Squadron 23; the guided-missile cruiser USS Chosin (CG 65); the guided-missile destroyers USS Sampson (DDG 102), USS Pinckney (DDG 91) and USS Higgins (DDG 76); and the guided-missile frigate USS Rentz (FFG 46).

CVW 11's squadrons include HS 6, the "Black Aces" of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 41, the "Tophatters" of VFA-14, the "Warhawks" of VFA-97, the "Sidewinders" of VFA-86, the "Black Ravens" of Electronic Attack Squadron 135, the "Providers" of Fleet Logistics Support Squadron 30 and the "Wallbangers" of Carrier Airborne Command and Control Squadron 117.

"We will miss them as we continue forward, but how we deal with this adversity will define us," Capt. Bret Batchelder, commander, Carrier Air Wing 11, told the Sailors gathered to remember their shipmates.

"We must carry on with renewed commitment to intensity and professionalism and do what they would do. If we don't do that, we're doing a disservice to them, a disservice to their families and not honoring their sacrifice the way that they would want us to."

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Pictures of departed crewmembers are displayed during a memorial service in the hangar bay of the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68).
090523-N-3946H-003 PACIFIC OCEAN (May 23, 2009) Pictures of departed crewmembers are displayed during a memorial service in the hangar bay of the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68). The memorial service was held in remembrance of the five Sailors assigned to Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron (HS) 6 who died when their HH-60H Sea Hawk helicopter crashed into the Pacific Ocean while conducting training operations during a Composite Training Unit Exercise off the coast of Southern California. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Patrick Heil/Released)
May 28, 2009
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