Memorial held in Japan for Navy sailors killed aboard USS Fitzgerald
YOKOSUKA (KUSI) — More than 2,000 sailors, family members and friends gathered in Yokosuka, Japan Tuesday morning to honor the seven U.S. Navy sailors — two with San Diego ties — who were killed when the USS Fitzgerald collided with a Philippine merchant ship.
MT @US7thFleet: Sailors, family and friends from #USSFitzgerald gather for a memorial honoring the #Fitzgerald7 who died June 17. pic.twitter.com/PLDeBXWZAC
— U.S. Navy (@USNavy) June 27, 2017
The private memorial service held by Fleet Activities Yokosuka honored San Diego native Yeoman 3rd Class Shingo Alexander Douglass, 25; Chula Vista native Fire Controlman 2nd Class Carlos Victor Ganzon Sibayan, 23; Yeoman 3rd Class Shingo Alexander Douglass, 25; Gunner’s Mate Seaman Dakota Kyle Rigsby, 19; Sonar Technician 3rd Class Ngoc T Truong Huynh, 25; Connecticut Gunner’s Mate 2nd Class Noe Hernandez, 26; Texas Personnel Specialist 1st Class Xavier Alec Martin, 24; and Fire Controlman 1st Class Gary Leo Rehm Jr., 37.
Inside an at-capacity chapel, sailors folded seven American flags, one for each sailor who died at sea. Prior, thousands lined a one-mile corridor called the “Line of Honor” while families and sailors traveled in a fleet to the chapel.
Acting Navy Secretary Sean J. Stackley ordered the American flag be flown at half-staff at all Navy and Marine Corps building and ships Tuesday to correspond with the memorial service in Yokosuka.
The seven sailors died when the guided-missile destroyer crashed with the ACX Crystal early June 17, causing the Fitzgerald’s compartments to become flooded while the sailors slept.
#FITZ UPDATE: We honor the 7 who died aboard #USSFitzgerald. Please join us in a moment of respect for our fallen shipmates. pic.twitter.com/WL8T1rOHvu
— 7th Fleet (@US7thFleet) June 27, 2017
“There was no understanding of what had happened at the moment of impact,” U.S. Pacific Fleet Commander Adm. Scott Swift said of the crew at the time of the collision. “But there was complete understanding of what needed to be done. We fight the ship to save ourselves. Every time we go to sea, the ship is our sanctuary and all Sailors have to come together as a crew and fight their ship, and that is exactly what Fitzgerald did.”
The Navy continues to investigate what went wrong with the USS Fitzgerald while Japanese authorities investigate possible problems with the Philippine merchant ship.