Navy Sailor Could Have Saved Himself, Chose to Save His ‘Kids’ or Die Trying

As news spread through the rest of the 7th Fleet that seven sailors had perished when the USS Fitzgerald collided with a container ship, the crew of another hard-luck destroyer assembled on its stern.

The USS Cole had lost 17 sailors to a terrorist bomb in 2000. The current crew gave tribute to their ill-fated comrades from Saturday’s collision by standing in formation in the shape of the digits 62, the hull number for the destroyer Fitzgerald.

“Few words can express our sorrow for the loss of our USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) shipmates—a simple picture must try,” read the caption when the USS Cole—hull number DDG 67—posted the tribute photo on the 7th Fleet website on Sunday.

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. Along with Tran Huynh from Vietnam and Oakville, Connecticut, these particular seven included Gunner’s Mate Seaman Dakota Kyle Rigsby, 19, from Palmyra, Virginia; Yeoman 3rd Class Shingo Alexander Douglass, 25, from Okinawa and then San Diego, California; Gunner’s Mate 2nd Class Noe Hernandez, 26, from Guatemala and then Weslaco, Texas; Fire Controlman 2nd Class Carlos Victor “Hitch” Ganzon Sibayan, 23, from the Philippines and then Chula Vista, California; Personnel Specialist 1st Class Xavier Alec Martin, 24, from Halethorpe, Maryland; and Fire Controlman 1st Class Gary Leo Rehm Jr., 37, from…

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