Guam remembers those lost on USS Fitzgerald

by .
U.S. Navy

SANTA RITA, Guam (June 20, 2017) -- People from numerous Navy commands across the island gathered for a somber memorial service June 20 at the U.S. Naval Base Guam (NBG) chapel to honor and remember the service and sacrifice of the seven Sailors lost as a result of the USS Fitzgerald (DDG-62)'s ship-to-ship collision at sea.

In the early morning hours of Saturday, June 17, the Arleigh Burke class destroyer, USS Fitzgerald, was operating off the coast of Japan, approximately 56 nautical miles southwest of Yokosuka, Japan. As a forward-deployed destroyer in 7th Fleet, she was part of the operating forces in the Indo-Asian-Pacific region providing maritime security and stability. As the 1 a.m. hour approached, only a few dozen of the ship’s crew of 350 were likely to be awake – the rest were sleeping before a new dawn. Suddenly, at 1:30 a.m. local time, USS Fitzgerald collided with a 29,000-ton merchant container ship vessel named ACX Crystal, a Philippine registered ship.

Fitzgerald Sailors awoke suddenly and sprung into action to save the ship – as it was taking on lots of water, with the threat of sinking. The large merchant vessel hit Fitzgerald on its starboard side, both above and below the water line – flooding berthing areas, a machinery compartment and the radio room. The heroic efforts of her Sailors – sealing off compartments and pumping out water that poured in through gaping holes torn in the starboard side – saved the ship from catastrophic flooding.

Unfortunately, USS Fitzgerald and the U.S. Navy lost seven fine Sailors as a result of the collision.

Lost but never forgotten 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

"Lifelines are the metal cables strung between the stanchions at the edge of the decks of Navy ships," said Capt. Hans Sholley, NBG commanding officer. "Lifelines are familiar, they are reassuring; they protect us from the sea. Physically, they are the last protection from being swept overboard. But lifelines also form the cultural boundaries between our shipboard family and the rest of the world.

"I ask you all to keep our fallen shipmates’ memory strong within your own personal lifelines," Sholley continued. "Protect them, honor them and most importantly remember their sacrifice."

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