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7 Sailors Lost on USS Fitzgerald Represent Cross Section of Americans

A photo compilation depicting the seven sailors who died during June 17, 2017 collision between a merchant ship and the guided missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald. USNI News Image

A photo compilation depicting the seven sailors who died during June 17, 2017 collision between a merchant ship and the guided missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald. USNI News Image

Seven enlisted sailors were killed in the June 17 collision between guided-missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald (DDG-62) and the Philippine-flagged merchant vessel ACX Crystal. They ranged from age 19 to 37 and come from communities across the country and overseas. The following is a compilation of media reports about the seven sailors.

Gunner’s Mate Seaman Dakota Kyle Rigsby, 19, from Palmyra, Va.

Gunner’s Mate Seaman Dakota Kyle Rigsby, 19, from Palmyra, Va.

Rigsby was a graduate of Fluvanna County High School outside of Charlottesville, Va. He was a volunteer firefighter with Lake Monticello Fire Department, according to Richmond-area television news channel WRIC. According to an Associated Press article, Rigsby began joined the fire department in 2014, following in the footsteps of his mother. Volunteer firefighter Farrah Brody said Rigsby “was a good kid. He’d give his shirt off of his back for you.”

Rigsby enlisted in the Navy on Feb. 17, 2016 and reported to Fitzgerald on Nov. 16, 2016.

Yeoman 3rd Class Shingo Alexander Douglass, 25, from San Diego, Calif.

Yeoman 3rd Class Shingo Alexander Douglass, 25, from San Diego, Calif.

Douglass grew up in Okinawa, Japan, where his father, a retired U.S. Marine Corps master sergeant, served at Camp Foster, according to a Stars and Stripes article. He moved to Oceanside, Calif., and graduated from Fallbrook High School in 2010. The Stripes article describes him as an avid tennis and video game player and a class clown, with a former classmate telling Stripes Douglass was a “class-clown type and everyone loved him for it.”

Douglass enlisted in the Navy on March 5, 2014, and he reported to Fitzgerald on Oct. 14, 2014, according to Navy records. He was profiled in a Navy public affairs spotlight in February 2015 and said, “I enjoy being in Japan, working with the Japanese Navy and getting underway frequently.”

Sonar Technician 3rd Class Ngoc T Truong Huynh, 25, from Oakville, Conn.

Sonar Technician 3rd Class Ngoc T Truong Huynh, 25, from Oakville, Conn.

Huynh was the oldest of four siblings raised by a single mother. His family moved to Connecticut in 2005, when he was in eighth grade, and he joined the Navy in on April 21, 2015, after taking some classes at Naugatuck Valley Community College, according to the local Fox 61 and and NBC Connecticut news stations.

The Hartford Courant reported that Huynh, who turned 25 on the day of the collision, joined the Navy as a way to give back to his mother for raising four children alone. “It’s not something he always wanted to do, but he wanted to do something adventurous,” Lan Thi Huynh told the paper.

Huynh was a student at the Fleet Anti-Submarine Training Center from June 2015 to June 2016 and reported to Fitzgerald on June 14, 2016.

Gunner’s Mate 2nd Class Noe Hernandez, 26, from Weslaco, Texas

Gunner’s Mate 2nd Class Noe Hernandez, 26, from Weslaco, Texas.

Hernandez joined his high school’s Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (JROTC) program and met his wife, Dora, in that class, his cousin Aly Hernandez-Singer told the Dallas-Fort Worth area CBS news station. “That was his first love… his only love,” she said, adding the couple has a three-year-old son, Leon. Hernandez-Singer added that “We all came from poverty in Guatemala. … He was the one who made it. And we were so proud of him.”

Hernandez enlisted in the Navy on June 18, 2009, according to Navy records. He was attached to the Navy Munitions Command in Sigonella, Italy, from April 2010 to September 2013, Littoral Combat Ship Training in San Diego from September 2013 to July 2015, and the Center for Surface Combat Systems school in San Diego until October 2015. He joined the crew of Fitzgerald on Dec. 7, 2015.

An Enlisted Surface Warfare Specialist, Hernandez was promoted to Gunner’s Mate Second Class on Dec. 16, 2014. He earned multiple awards and decorations, including the Meritorious Unit Commendation, Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Navy/Marine Corps Overseas Service Ribbon, NATO Medal, Rifle Marksmanship Ribbon and Pistol Marksmanship Ribbon.

Fire Controlman 2nd Class Carlos Victor Ganzon Sibayan, 23, from Chula Vista, Calif.

Fire Controlman 2nd Class Carlos Victor Ganzon Sibayan, 23, from Chula Vista, Calif.

Sibayan was a cadet in Chaparral High School’s Naval Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (NJROTC) program and enlisted after high school graduation, on April 3, 2013.

“There was never a time that Carlos wasn’t making people laugh,” fellow NJROTC cadet Chase Cornils told the San Diego Union-Tribune. “He always had a cheerful attitude and a smile on his face. When I think of Carlos, I can only remember an extremely happy guy who was willing to help all of his friends.”

Cornils added that joining the Navy “felt like it was his calling” and that Sibayan “was extremely excited to join and start his career in the Navy and serve our country. He wanted to start as soon as he could.”

Sibayan enlisted in April 2013 and reported to Fitzgerald on July 31, 2014. The Enlisted Surface Warfare Specialist was promoted to Fire Controlman Second Class on Jan. 16, 2016.

The Philippine Star reported that Sibayan’s family is originally from Pasay City, outside Manila. The paper quoted the sailor’s mother, Carmen, as saying, “If you never met my son, you missed a whole lot. In every sense of the word he is my hero. … The way Carlos is, when you need help, he’ll help you with his whole being.”

Personnel Specialist 1st Class Xavier Alec Martin, 24, from Halethorpe, Md.

Personnel Specialist 1st Class Xavier Alec Martin, 24, from Halethorpe, Md.

Martin joined the Navy on May 24, 2012, to follow in his father’s footsteps, according to multiple news reports. An only child raised by a single dad, Martin graduated in 2010 from Landsdowne High School and then worked hard to rise through the ranks in the Navy, his aunt Daneace Jeffery told U.S. News and World Report.

“He loved his job, he loved being in the military,” she said, adding that he was just recently promoted to petty officer first class and was considering making a career out of the Navy.
“He was a friend’s friend. He’s a good friend to others, he always put others before his own safety. I’m sure in his last moments he was probably more concerned with the other servicemen than himself, that’s the kind of person he was.”

Martin served at the Personnel Support Detachment in Guam from May 2013 to May 2016 and then reported to Fitzgerald on Aug. 26, 2016. His awards include the Navy/Marine Corps Achievement Medal, Good Conduct Medal and Navy/Marine Corps Overseas Service Ribbon.

Fire Controlman 1st Class Gary Leo Rehm Jr., 37, from Elyria, Ohio

Fire Controlman 1st Class Gary Leo Rehm Jr., 37, from Elyria, Ohio.

Rehm graduated from Oberlin City Schools in 1998 and enlisted in the Navy on July 16, 1998. He served aboard USS Ponce (LPD-15) from March 2000 to January 2004, worked in the Naval Weapons Station Yorktown Security Detachment in Virginia from March 2004 to March 2007, served aboard USS Ramage (DDG-61) from May 2007 to April 2012, and joined the crew of Fitzgerald on Sept. 2, 2015.

The Enlisted Surface Warfare Specialist earned medals and decorations including the Army Commendation Medal, Air Force Commendation Medal, Navy/Marine Corps Achievement Medal, Navy “E” Ribbon, Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Southwest Asia Service Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal with Campaign Star, Sea Service Deployment Ribbon, and Rifle Marksmanship Ribbon.

Rehm was set to retire from the Navy this summer, his family told several news outlets.

  • Dick_Gosinya

    May they rest in God’s loving arms…

    “I can imagine no more rewarding a career. And any man who may be asked in this century what he did to make his life worthwhile, I think can respond with a good deal of pride and satisfaction: ‘I served in the United States Navy.”

    ― John F. Kennedy

  • Jim

    All still kids, like when I joined USN, in 68. Better be investigation on
    both sides, why did cargo ship make turn! Parents, demand answers!

  • nevenera

    Very sad, my condolences to the families.

  • Olivia Mausel

    THANK YOU
    for your service, You will be remembered by your families and the Navy officers and men of the Fitzgerald. God Bless you for your sacrifice! Hugs and love to your families! You gave your life regardless of the cause, race or creed. Taps!

  • Mark

    S.I.R and R.I.P

  • tim

    … we owe them to demand better … thank you for your service.

  • PappyStu

    Shipmates now forever, Calm winds and following seas Gentlemen…

  • Janet Delaney

    I remember Carl (Sibayan) very much as a little boy on Yokosuka Naval Base (CFAY). Their Dad was in the same ship as my husband and we lived in the same housing tower. Him and his brother Nathan went to Sullivan’s Elementary (inside the base), with my little girl. My heart just sunk when I recognized Carl, because him and his brother (at that time they were 2 and now they have another brother here), are their mother’s world. They were just really well behaved respectful little boys because their mother really kept them in line. Carl was just happy and always smiling as I remember him. I loved this family too. They were always friendly and ready to help anybody in need. May you rest in peace, Carl and I’m praying that your family will also somehow find some comfort in this grief. Prayers and condolences also goes to all the other 6 sailors (Dakota, Shingo, Ngoc, Gary, Xavier, Noe) and their families. May you all rest in peace and thank you for your service.

  • Tom BBLaw

    I suspect that the seven dead crewmen were SACRIFICED to prevent the ship from sinking. There was probably an order from higher up to seal ALL DOORS and COMPARTMENTS to prevent flooding of the ship to save the ship, and the seven crewmen drowned when the compartments were sealed. Thus, the claim that the crewmen were missing and might have been knocked overboard when they were supposed to be in their compartments sleeping at that hour is an attempt to hide the heart-wrenching decision to sacrifice those men in order to save the ship. Thank you for your service and protecting our freedom. The American people are grateful for your service and sacrifice.

  • As a reminder to our commenters, please be civil and respectful as we continue to learn about the events surrounding the collision of USS Fitzgerald and ACX Crystal. Information on the incident is still spare.

  • Ed L

    Sad, see there faces reminds me of the shipmates I lost while in service

    • publius_maximus_III

      Thank you for your service, Ed.

  • Patrice

    Im so sad that this happened to our great, navy sailors! Thank you all for your service. God bless you all!!! 💜

  • Marcd30319

    Sad to see such young lives lost in the service of their country. They are true patriots and citizen-soldiers who gave up a modicum of their personal liberty to protect our freedom. Cross the bar with honor, gentlemen.

  • publius_maximus_III

    I think everyone concluded the very same thing as this author when they first read the list. Cannot imagine what it would be like to lose a son.

  • Earl Chastain

    Thank you for this article. The victims of this tragedy have names, faces, and stories. American heroes, all.

  • Chesapeakeguy

    A damned shame.

  • Kim Chul Soo

    How about some info on why the merchant ship did a 180? Something doesn’t smell right about this collision.

  • Gen. Buck Turgidson

    Losses are always most difficult for us,,we never forget as time passes ,,RIP

  • Dennis

    I’d like to know why the ship wasn’t already at Zebra and why there was no collision alarm sounded.