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Sailor Participates in Grandfather's Burial-At-Sea

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USS IWO JIMA, At Sea -- Sailors and Marines from USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7) and the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) held a burial-at-sea ceremony aboard the multipurpose amphibious assault ship, Nov. 9.

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

The ceremony opened with remarks from Iwo Jima's Executive Officer, Capt. James E. McGovern, and a prayer by Chaplain Lt. Randy A. Gibson.

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. Seward, was able to witness and participate in 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."

As keepsakes, the families 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 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.

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.

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