USS Carl Vinson strike group deploys to Middle East

SAN DIEGO - The Carl Vinson Carrier Strike Group departed San Diego Friday for a nine-and-a-half-month deployment to the Western Pacific and Middle East.

The vessels in the strike force include the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson, guided-missile cruiser USS Bunker Hill, and guided-missile destroyers USS Gridley, USS Sterett and USS Dewey, carrying around 6,200 sailors between them.

The aircraft of Carrier Air Wing 17, which includes nine fixed-wing and helicopter squadrons, will be aboard the USS Carl Vinson.

Four-year-old Cora Frankel was learning to love dad from afar with air kisses because he was on board the USS Carl Vinson.

"I love you daddy, see you soon," she said from her mom's arms toward the ship before turning to mom Carissa.

"Where's daddy?" she said. It was the first of many times she'll ask about MA2 Brian Frankel.

Carissa Frankel said he'll be back soon and a few seconds passed before her face broke and the tears started to fall.

According to the U.S. Navy, the strike group will focus on maritime security operations. The commander said they're prepared for wherever the mission takes them, knowing that could mean the turbulent Middle East. He had a message: He said the community should be very proud of the brave men and women headed out to do important work.

"I'm nervous because I've seen the news about everything overseas, and it just makes me more scared," Carissa Frankel said.

As tears started to roll down her cheeks, little Cora looked to 10News cameras and said "she's crying."

Cora, leaned over to hug her mom, then pulled back, looked at her mom and used her tiny hands to wipe mom's tears away. That heartwarming support gave mom an instant smile.

The U.S. has been conducting air strikes in Iraq against the Islamic State, an extremist group that has taken control of several cities in the northern part of the country, and is accused of genocide against religious minorities. It's unclear if the air units aboard the USS Vinson will participate in the strikes.

The carrier returned from its previous deployment in May 2012 and underwent a seven-month overhaul.

It is named after Carl Vinson, who served in Congress for 50 years, including 29 as chairman of the House Naval Affairs and Armed Services Committee.

The USS Carl Vinson is the aircraft carrier from which Osama bin Laden was buried at sea following his death in 2011.

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