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Sixth Fleet commander says carrier attacks will go down in history

ABOARD THE USS HARRY S. TRUMAN, in the eastern Mediterranean—Vice Adm. Scott A. Fry, commander of the U.S. Sixth Fleet, told sailors and pilots aboard the nation's newest aircraft carrier Friday that their attacks on Iraq would go down in history.

"You are part of a battle force that has more combat power in the Mediterranean than has been here since World War II," Fry said in a visit to the Truman. "I want you to remember that your kids—and my grandchildren—are going to read about what you're doing here today in their history books of the future."

Pilots from the Truman flew 400 combat sorties during the first week of the war. They haven't been getting as much anti-aircraft fire as expected, and they haven't been challenged by Iraqi planes.

Crews from this aircraft carrier, the nearby USS Theodore Roosevelt, and ships in their battle groups have dropped more than 300 bombs and missiles on Iraq.

Fry and other top officers say the two carriers and their battle groups can do more.

"You're not even walking fast on the Harry S. Truman," Fry said. "There's a lot more strike power we could get out of these two aircraft carriers."

Fry offered to take questions from the several hundred crew members in front of a bunting-bedecked stage, but only one person took him up on it. A disbursement worker wanted to know why the eastern Mediterranean had not been declared a combat zone, which would exempt the crews in the region from state and federal income taxes.

"You and I are both wondering that, and we're working real hard to make that happen," Fry said. "That's of course a congressional decision that has been proposed up through the chain of command, and I can't tell you when it is going to happen, but we have certainly requested it."

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(c) 2003, Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services.

PHOTO (from KRT Photo Service, 202-383-6099):

USIRAQ+TRUMAN.

Iraq

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