"They fought together as brothers in arms; they died together and now they sleep side by side...To them, we have a solemn obligation — the obligation to ensure that their sacrifice will help make this a better and safer world in which to live."--Adm. Chester Nimitz, Tokyo Bay, 1945
"The Navy has identified the seven sailors from the guided-missile destroyer who were killed following a collision with a merchant ship off the coast of Japan, a U.S. 7th Fleet announced on Sunday evening.
The bodies of the missing sailors were found in the berthing compartments that were flooded after USS Fitzgerald (DDG-62) was hit by the Philippine-flagged merchant vessel ACX Crystal on Friday.
“The remains of seven sailors previously reported missing were located in flooded berthing compartments, after divers gained access to the spaces, June 18, that were damaged when the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) was involved in a collision with the Philippine-flagged merchant vessel ACX Crystal,” read the statement.
In a Saturday press conference, U.S. 7th Fleet commander, Vice Adm. Joseph Aucoin confirmed that the search and rescue efforts were discontinued shortly after Fitzgerald returned to Yokosuka.
“We have transferred the remains to the Yokosuka Naval hospital,” he said.
“The families are being notified and being provided support they need in this difficult time.“
The seven sailors identified were:
– Gunner’s Mate Seaman Dakota Kyle Rigsby, 19, from Palmyra, Virginia
– Yeoman 3rd Class Shingo Alexander Douglass, 25, from San Diego, California
– Sonar Technician 3rd Class Ngoc T Truong Huynh, 25, from Oakville, Connecticut
– Gunner’s Mate 2nd Class Noe Hernandez, 26, from Weslaco, Texas
– Fire Controlman 2nd Class Carlos Victor Ganzon Sibayan, 23, from Chula Vista, California
– Personnel Specialist 1st Class Xavier Alec Martin, 24, from Halethorpe, Maryland
– Fire Controlman 1st Class Gary Leo Rehm Jr., 37, from Elyria, Ohio
"The word “shipmates” embraced two sailors who had followed family members into the U.S. military, but also one from Vietnam and another from the Philippines and another from Guatemala and another from Okinawa. The sister of the Vietnamese-American, 25-year-old Sonar Technician 3rd Class Ngoc Truong “Tran” Huynh, had another word for those seven sailors as diverse as the country they died serving.
“Our family will never be whole again without him but we are just happy he didn’t die alone, he died with his brothers,” Mary Huynh said in a statement.
And therein resides America’s true greatness, the making of shipmates and brothers of people hailing from seemingly everywhere.
The most senior of the seven, Gary Rehm, had his own particular word for these brothers/shipmates.
“The sailors on the ship he called his kids,” his uncle Stanley Rehm Jr. told The Daily Beast. “He called them his kids.”
And, by various accounts, Gary Rehm had saved at least 20 of them after the collision. He then went down to save more.
“He said, ‘If my kids die, I’m going to die,’” the uncle said.
Gary Rehm perished with the six others.
“He could have walked away and been safe,” the uncle noted.
The uncle reported that Gary Rehm had himself been a kid right out of high school when he joined the Navy, as his grandfather Stanley Rehm Sr. had during World War II.
“He wanted to be just like his grandfather,” the uncle recalled.
The grandfather had also served on a destroyer, the USS David W. Taylor, DD 551.
“[The grandfather] was so proud of that ship,” the uncle said. “He went to all the reunions.”
The uncle said the USS Taylor escorted the battleship USS Missouri into Tokyo Bay for the formal signing of the Japanese surrender in 1945.
So it seemed only fitting that Gary Rehm’s last two-year tour before he planned to retire took him aboard the destroyer Fitzgerald to Japan.
“Where his grandfather was,” the uncle said. “Japan.”
Early Saturday morning, the Fitzgerald was off the coast of Japan when it collided with the container ship ACX Crystal. Gary Rehm leapt into action to rescue his kids.
“He was saving guys,” the uncle said. “He saved quite a few of them.”'.......
It's fitting that Admiral Nimitz should preside.