CORONADO, Calif. (AP) -- Hundreds of relatives and friends, some in tears, watched as crewmen of the USS John C. Stennis set sail from San Diego Bay to support the military action in Afghanistan.
It will be months before the 5,500-member crew of the aircraft carrier will be able to see their families again.
Pauline Stewart of Earlimart held up her 2-month-old daughter, Jasmine, and waved to her husband, airman Joshua Stewart, who blew kisses to them from the Stennis' side.
"It's sad," the 17-year-old said with tears. "When he comes home his baby is going to be so big. All of the things he's going to miss -- her first steps, her first word."
The Stennis is the centerpiece of a 10-ship battle group that will spend six months in the Persian Gulf. Other ships in the group -- with a total of about 8,500 Navy and Marine personnel -- were sailing from other locations. They were being joined by a Canadian frigate, the HMCS Vancouver, with a crew of 224.
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