About 6,000 Marines and sailors from Expeditionary Strike Group 5 departed from the 32nd Street Naval Station San Diego Monday aboard six ships bound for the Western Pacific.
One sailor assigned to one of the ships refused to board the vessel to protest the U.S. presence in Iraq."I just want people to see how people feel about this. It's not just a few crazy liberals talking to the media to make money. I'm not making any money, I'm going to jail for a year for this. I want to do because I feel that strongly about it and I know a lot of people feel this way," Petty Officer Third Class Pablo Paredes told 10News.Paredes, 23, wore a T-shirt that read: 'Like a cabinet member, I resign.' He acknowledged that the action he is planning could result in a court martial and imprisonment. "I know other people are feeling the same way I am, and I'm hoping more people will stand up," he said. "They can't throw us all in jail."
Meanwhile, the San Diego-based amphibious ships Bonhomme Richard, Duluth and Rushmore, the guided-missile cruiser Bunker Hill, guided-missile destroyer Milius and guided-missile frigate Thach began departing at 8 a.m. Millions of dollars worth of fighting equipment, including helicopters from Marine Corp Air Station Miramar, were loaded aboard the ships on Thursday in preparation for the deployment. While on deployment, the ships in the strike group will operate in the Pacific and Indian oceans in support of the global war on terrorism, according to Navy public affairs. The strike group also includes the attack submarine Pasadena, which is departing from Hawaii, and the Coast Guard cutter Munro, leaving from Alameda, according to U.S. Navy Third Fleet public affairs. The USS Bonhomme Richard, named after the ship commanded by John Paul Jones in 1779, returned to San Diego in July 2003 after a six-month deployment in support of operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom. The Wasp Class amphibious assault ship resembles a small aircraft carrier and carries both crew and aircraft.