Hard working. Proud of his work. Always positive. A volunteer firefighter. A superior sailor. The love of his wife’s life. These are some of the ways that the lost sailors of the USS Fitzgerald are being remembered by those who knew and loved them.
Their backgrounds symbolize America’s tradition of diversity. They were from states spread all over the country.
Dakota Kyle Rigsby. Shingo Alexander Douglass. Ngoc T Truong Huynh. Noe Hernandez. Carlos Victor Ganzon Sibayan. Xavier Alec Martin. Gary Leo Rehm Jr.
The U.S. Navy has recovered the bodies of the seven sailors on the USS Fitzgerald. They went missing after the destroyer collided with a merchant ship from the Philippines.
Tragically, all of the missing sailors were found in a flooded berthing compartment in the ship by dive teams.
“A number of Sailors’ bodies that were missing from the collision between USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) and a merchant ship have been found,” wrote the U.S. 7th Fleet on June 17. “As search and rescue crews gained access to the spaces that were damaged during the collision this morning, the missing Sailors were located in the flooded berthing compartments. They are currently being transferred to Naval Hospital Yokosuka where they will be identified.” CNN reported that all seven missing sailors had died.
The cause of the collision between USS Fitzgerald and the larger ACX Crystal container ship has not yet been released. However, investigators are interviewing the crew of the ACX Crystal, and “Japan’s public broadcaster NHK said the ACX Crystal had made a sharp turn shortly before the collision,” reported The Guardian. However, the company says the collision occurred early than the Navy claims, which would mean the ship turned after the collision, not before it, and may have been operating on autopilot.
Who were the seven missing sailors?
It’s important to remember who they were as people to properly remember their lives, which were devoted to service in the protection of the country. The Navy formally identified the deceased sailors’ names on June 18.
Here are those who died:
Dakota Rigsby, a Gunner’s Mate & Volunteer Firefighter
Dakota Rigsby was identified as one of the seven missing sailors by local television in Virginia, where he was from. CBS19 “confirmed one of the sailors reported missing, Dakota Rigsby, was from Fluvanna County.”
The television station said that Rigsby’s family did not want to be interviewed but did ask the community for its prayers.
Rigsby was a volunteer firefighter back home. He “volunteers for the Lake Monticello Volunteer Fire Department, and is a graduate of Fluvanna County High School,” reported CBS19. Christ Presbyterian Parish wrote on Facebook that his mother was also a volunteer firefighter: “One of the missing is Dakota Rigsby, whose mother, Shawn Rigsby is a Lake Monticello firefighter/rescue member.”
On Facebook, Rigsby wrote that he was a gunner’s mate in the U.S. Navy. “I’m too excited for you to get to Japan!!!!!!” one friend wrote on one of his comment threads before he left. A friend posted this graphic on Facebook:
His mother changed her profile picture to one of her son in Navy uniform.
Shingo Alexander Douglass
Shingo Douglass was 25 and from San Diego, California. A 2015 profile of Douglass in the Military Press reported that he was “a Sailor with numerous responsibilities, Douglass said he is proud to serve his country aboard a destroyer in Japan. He added that it is an exciting time to be in the military, and serving in the world’s greatest.”
The profile added that Shingo Douglass, was a “2010 Fallbrook High School graduate and Oceanside, Calif. native” who was “serving aboard the U.S. Navy destroyer USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62), living and working at the Navy’s forward-deployed base south of Tokyo.”
He told the Military Press: “I maintain the outside of the ship by sanding and painting, line handling and raising and lowering the rafts. I enjoy being in Japan, working with the Japanese Navy and getting underway frequently.”
The article noted: “Douglass also said he is proud of the work he is doing as part of the Fitzgerald’s 300-member crew, living thousands of miles from home, and protecting America on the world’s oceans.”
Sonar Technician 3rd Class Ngoc T Truong Huynh
Huynh, 25, was from Oakville, Connecticut.
According to UK Daily Mail, “The oldest of four siblings, Huynh, his mother and the children moved to Connecticut in 2005. He joined the Navy in 2014 after taking a few classes at Naugatuck Valley Community College.”
His younger sister Lan told Fox 61: “We want people to know that anyone who came across Tan noticed he was very quiet person, but he is also the sweetest and nicest. When he talked about things that he loved, he showed so much passion, just like his love for the Navy and niece. He had a bright smile.”
Gunner’s Mate 2nd Class Noe Hernandez
Hernandez, 26, was from Weslaco, Texas.
Joanna Rios wrote on Facebook of the below photo: “Today we lost a great friend and loving father. Noe Hernandez pictured left. Holding on tight to his wife Dora. High school sweethearts.”
Hernandez filled his Facebook page with photos of his wife, their child, traveling, and the Navy.
Just hours before his death was announced, Hernandez’ wife wrote on Facebook, “Happy Fathers Day Love of my Life.”
Fire Controlman 2nd Class Carlos Victor Ganzon Sibayan
Sibayan, 23, was from Chula Vista, California.
“Carlos Victor Sibayan is one of the nicest guys that I’ve ever met. A hardworker and always had a positive attitude. He could always put a smile on everyones face even during the worst of days at Great Lakes! You will always be missed,” wrote Sienna Echon on Facebook.
On Facebook, Sibayan wrote that he went to Chaparral High School, lived in Chula Vista, California, was in a relationship and was from Pasay City, Philippines.
Another friend remembered Sibayan’s kind-hearted personality in a lengthy and moving tribute. It read, “The first thing I remembered about you was when we were kids back in Yokosuka. It was 2002; we were in the same third grade class, and you were one of the quieter students in our class at the time. As the year moved on, I got to know you a little more and we became friends when I discovered your kind and warm-hearted spirit. I moved away after that year, and we couldn’t keep in contact until we were both on Facebook in 2011 hehe…Even though it had been literally almost a decade, you, me and Frances could converse as if we were eight years old again. You even told us you had plans for yourself to join the Navy after high school, and I couldn’t help but look up to you and that conviction because you seemed so sure with what you wanted to do with your life. Although we all knew you at different times in your life, one thing’s for sure: you will most definitely be missed. Rest in peace, sailor. Semper Fortis.”
Personnel Specialist 1st Class Xavier Alec Martin
Martin, 24, was from Halethorpe, Maryland.
According to UK Daily Mail, “Martin graduated from Lansdowne High School and joined the Navy five years ago… his father is simply heartbroken by his son’s death and too exhausted to speak.”
“Martin’s awards include the Navy/Marine Corps Achievement Medal, Good Conduct Medal, and Navy/Marine Corps Overseas Service Ribbon,” the news site reported.
Fire Controlman 1st Class Gary Leo Rehm Jr.
Gary Leo Rehm, 37, was from Elyria, Ohio. The tributes poured into Facebook. A sampling:
“One of the best sailors I am honored to have known. He was a great man, a superior sailor, and an even better brother.”
“One of the nicest guys I got to work with. RIP Gary.”
“RIP Gary Rehm. You were the best LPO I could have ever asked for. You taught me everything when I knew nothing. I’ll miss you.”
On Facebook, Rehm wrote that he went to Oberlin Senior High School, lives in Hampton, Virginia, and was from Elyria, Ohio. His wife posted this photo of Rehm on Facebook:
You can learn more about the commander of the USS Fitzgerald here: