USS Iwo Jima sailor bids farewell to grandfather during burial-at-sea

Posted at 3:00 PM, Nov 10, 2012
and last updated 2012-11-10 15:00:46-05

USS IWO JIMA, At Sea– Sailors and Marines assigned to the multipurpose amphibious assault ship USS Iwo Jima and the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit held a burial-at-sea ceremony on Friday.

The cremated remains of two Navy veterans, David L. Miller and Jerome A. Seward, were committed to rest while sailing through the Mediterranean Sea.

The ceremony opened with remarks from Iwo Jima’s Executive Officer, Capt. James E. McGovern, with the religious prayer by Protestant Chaplain, Lt. Randy A. Gibson.

“We are gathered this afternoon aboard USS Iwo Jima to pay final respects to two departed Sailors,” said McGovern. “It is therefore fitting and appropriate that we as a ship, representing our Navy and our nation, honor these men who have served before us.”

Photos: The Iwo Jima Amphibious Ready Group in the Gulf of Aden

For one Iwo Jima Sailor, the ties went beyond just those of naval service.

Aviation Ordnanceman 3rd Class Christopher R. Sergent-Seward, grandson of Jerome A. Seaward, was able to witness his grandfather’s final disposition at sea.

“It made me feel really proud and honored,” said Sergent-Seward. “I was glad to be able to do this for him because he had always said he wanted to be buried at sea. My family is very happy that I was the one who committed his remains to the sea.”

Upon completion of the ceremony, the family of the departed veterans will receive a signed letter from the ship’s commanding officer, spent rifle-bullet casings from the 21-gun salute, a marked chart indicating where the burial-at-sea took place and a CD containing photographs of the event.

“This is a very special and important moment for the families, and since they are not able to be present, we try to make sure they feel as much a part of it as possible,” said Religious Programs Specialist 1st Class Diana R. Silver. “Performing burials-at-sea for the family members of veterans who served our country is truly an honor.”

The naval tradition of being buried at sea is a custom extended to active duty members of the uniformed services, retirees and veterans who were honorably discharged, U.S. civilian marine personnel of the Military Sealift Command and dependent family members of active duty.

The Iwo Jima and the embarked 24th MEU are currently deployed in support of maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 6th Fleet area of responsibility.

U.S. Navy Story by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Travis J. Kuykendall, USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7) Public Affairs