The first sailor to die of COVID-19 was a chief petty officer assigned to USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71), the Navy announced on Thursday.
Aviation Ordnanceman Chief Petty Officer Charles Robert Thacker Jr., 41, died in U.S. Naval Hospital Guam on Monday after being admitted to intensive care after being found unresponsive days earlier during a medical check of personnel who had been moved off the carrier. He was moved to the hospital on April 9.
“Thacker’s spouse, who is an active duty member stationed in San Diego, was flown via Navy Air Logistics Office flight to Guam, arriving April 11,” the Navy said in a statement.
“At the time of his passing, Thacker’s spouse was by his side.”
Thacker was the first active-duty service member to die from the global COVID-19 pandemic after an outbreak on the aircraft carrier. In late March, Army National Guard Capt. Douglas Linn Hickok, 57, died from the virus.
Originally from Arkansas, Thacker enlisted in the Navy in 1997, according to a biography obtained by USNI News. At sea, he served aboard USS Constellation (CV-64), USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76), USS George Washington (CVN-73) as well as Theodore Roosevelt. Ashore his assignments included: Naval Air Weapons Maintenance Unit 1, Agana, Guam, Air Test and Evaluation Squadron 9, China Lake, Calif., Marine Fighter Attack Training Squadron 101, Naval Air Station Miramar, Calif., and the Fleet Training and Readiness Center, North Island, Calif.
As of Thursday, 94 percent of Theodore Roosevelt crewmembers had been tested for COVID-19, with 655 positives and 3,919 negatives. 4,059 sailors have moved ashore. Six sailors are hospitalized, with one in the intensive care unit.
“Crew members who tested positive for COVID-19 remain in isolation at controlled locations on Naval Base Guam, and they receive daily medical supportive care. All medical care is being provided by medical personnel from USS Theodore Roosevelt, U.S. Naval Hospital Guam, and elements of the 3rd Medical Battalion,” reads a statement from the service.
The carrier has been the epicenter of the Pentagon’s fight against the virus and its fight over how the Department of Defense will balance military readiness with health considerations. The situation served as a backdrop for last week’s resignation of former Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly and the removal of the carrier’s former commander, Capt. Brett Crozier.
Based on the lessons from the carrier, the Navy is altering how it tests and deploys its forces under the threat of the virus.
The following is the complete April 16, 2020 statement from U.S. Pacific Fleet.
PEARL HARBOR (NNS) — Aviation Ordnanceman Chief Petty Officer Charles Robert Thacker Jr., 41, of Fort Smith, Ark. assigned to USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71), died from COVID-19 April 13 at U.S. Naval Hospital Guam.
Thacker tested positive for COVID-19 March 30, was removed from the ship and placed in isolation on Naval Base Guam. On April 9 (local date), Thacker was found unresponsive during a daily medical check and transferred to Naval Base Guam via ambulance where he was placed in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU).
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the family during this difficult time,” said Capt. Carlos Sardiello, Theodore Roosevelt’s commanding officer. “Our number one priority continues to be the health and well-being of all members of the Theodore Roosevelt Strike Group and we remain steadfast in our resolve against the spread of this virus.”
Thacker’s spouse, who is an active duty member stationed in San Diego, was flown via Navy Air Logistics Office (NALO) flight to Guam, arriving April 11 (local date). At the time of his passing, Thacker’s spouse was by his side.
Crew members who tested positive for COVID-19 remain in isolation at controlled locations on Naval Base Guam, and they receive daily medical supportive care. All medical care is being provided by medical personnel from USS Theodore Roosevelt, U.S. Naval Hospital Guam, and elements of the 3rd Medical Battalion.
To support Sailors, USS Theodore Roosevelt has a civilian resiliency counselor, a Chaplain team and medical psychologist assisting as needed. The crew is also being supported by Joint Region Marianas and Naval Base Guam Chaplains.
USS Theodore Roosevelt arrived in Guam on 27 March for a scheduled port visit for resupply and crew rest.