Missing firefighter's wife on search: 'It's not manpower, it's God power'

Stephanie McCluney thanks searchers in public statement before private vigil

By Erik Avanier - Reporter

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Two women are determined to make sure their husbands who disappeared at sea return home safe.

While crews continue to search tens of thousands of miles of the Atlantic Ocean for Brian McCluney, a firefighter and paramedic with the Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department, and Justin Walker, another firefighter from Fairfax, Virginia, their wives are doing their best to remain strong and focused on making sure their husbands come home alive.

"We've got to get one eye to see. All it takes is one eye, but it takes a multitude out there. That is a big space. It is a bigger God. He's going to bring him home," Stephanie McCluney, the wife of the missing Jacksonville firefighter, said Tuesday.

Stephanie McCluney made a public statement, taking the time to thank everyone involved in the search, before she entered a private vigil Tuesday evening at the fire union hall off Stockton Street in Jacksonville.

“We cannot express the gratitude from the bottom of our hearts that these operations, that these agencies have given. From the fire departments up and down the coast, JFRD has been so supportive. Now, Fairfax is stepping in and the Coast Guard operation is so amazingly well run," she said. "It brings me such renewed strength to go down there and see the operation itself, to see what exactly they're doing. And the manpower behind it -- it's not manpower, it's God power. He's doing amazing things."

Though Stephanie McCluney was clearly grateful for the tremendous amount of support from the different agencies and volunteers, she also pleaded for more help.

“We still need so much more support to keep going, to keep those boats in the water, to keep those airplanes in the air, so please continue to support us," she said. "Once again, thank you. There is so much gratitude here and so much heartfelt. I can't say enough words. 'Praise be to God, and the things he is doing right now amongst all of these people.'"

She added: "The people out there, in the boats, in the planes -- I cannot forget about them. Thank you."

The private vigil included remarks from officials, song, prayer and food. Family members of McCluney and Walker were also recognized. McCluney's station 31 sent its crew over to the vigil.

Walker’s wife, Natasha Walker, did not attend. She spent the day joining the search by air.

"I need to be up there. I feel like I'm searching, too. And we've been following, you know, everybody's plan and I've been getting frustrated without, with the results of not, you know, going to bed at night knowing that the feeling guilty going to sleep or eating because I know our husbands are out there not doing that," she said.

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Since both firefighters set out from Port Canaveral on Friday for a day of fishing and never returned, search crews have covered 69,000 square miles from Brevard County to South Carolina looking for them, according to the Coast Guard. And with so much support coming in from people who are volunteering to take part in the search, it doesn’t appear that efforts are slowing down anytime soon.

Stephanie McCluney asked people to go to the JFRD website and donate money to help keep the search going because there are a lot of volunteers who are using their own money to pay for fuel to keep their boats in the water and private aircraft in the air. Click here to make a donation.

JFRD Chief Keith Powers asked for anyone in the Brunswick and Savannah areas with boats capable of operating 60 miles offshore who can help Wednesday to call 904-813-5315 to coordinate. Other volunteers are asked to call 904-763-9747, as crews will be going out again Wednesday morning from the Mayport boat ramp.

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