37-year-old, US Navy Sailor, Gary Rehm referred to the sailors aboard the USS Fitzgerald as his ‘kids.’ And at the time that his life was in jeopardy, he chose to sacrifice himself in order to save his kids that were trapped as a result of a collision.
As word circulated around to the remaining personnel aboard the 7th Fleet that seven sailors were killed during the collision between the USS Fitzgerald and a container ship, a crew from another destroyer assembled on the stern of the ship.
In 2000, the USS Cole lost 17 sailors because of a terrorist bomb. And due to Saturday’s fatal collision, the current crew saluted their ill-fated comrades by assembling in formation, creating a shape of the number 62, which is Fitzgerald’s hull number.
“Few words can express our sorrow for the loss of our USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) shipmates—a simple picture must try,” as written on the caption during the time that the USS Cole—hull number DDG 67—published the photo of the tribute on Sunday on the website for the 7th Fleet.
The 7 Americans Represent The Diversity Of The Country They Died For
“Shipmates” is the term that embraced two of the sailors who had been preceded by family members who served in the United States military before them, but also four others who were from Vietnam, the Philippines, Okinawa, and Guatemala. Sonar Technician 3rd Class Ngoc Truong “Tran” Huynh, sister of the 25-year-old Vietnamese-American, held a different word in mind when thinking of the diverse group of seven soldiers who died for a country that is just as diverse.
“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 reported in a statement. The defining greatness of America is therein found in the cultivation of a brotherhood that is composed of people coming in from every corner of the world.
Along with Tran Huynh from Vietnam and Oakville, Connecticut, these particular seven included Gunner’s Mate 2nd Class Noe Hernandez, 26, who resided in Guatemala and then Weslaco, Texas; Gunner’s Mate Seaman Dakota Kyle Rigsby, 19, who resided in Palmyra, Virginia; Personnel Specialist 1st Class Xavier Alec Martin, 24, from Halethorpe, Maryland; and Fire Controlman 1st Class Gary Leo Rehm Jr., 37, who resided in Elyria, Ohio; Fire Controlman 2nd Class Carlos Victor “Hitch” Ganzon Sibayan, 23, who resided in the Philippines and then Chula Vista, California; and Yeoman 3rd Class Shingo Alexander Douglass, 25, who resided in Okinawa and also then San Diego.
Gary Pledged His Life To His Kids
As the eldest of the seven, Gary Rehm selected his own particular expressions for his shipmates and brothers. “The sailors on the ship he called his kids,” his uncle Stanley Rehm Jr. explained to The Daily Beast. “He called them his kids.”
And according to others, Gary Rehm saved at least 20 sailors immediately following the collision, then went back to save even more soldiers. “He said, ‘If my kids die, I’m going to die,’” the uncle stated. Gary Rehm passed away along with the other six. “He could have walked away and been safe,” the uncle added.
Gary Rehm Followed In His Grandfather’s Footsteps
The uncle explained that Gary Rehm joined the Navy right out of high school, duplicating the steps his grandfather Stanely Rehm Sr. took back during World War II. “He wanted to be just like his grandfather,” the uncle reported. Gary’s grandfather also served aboard a destroyer, which for him was the USS David W. Taylor, DD 551. “[The grandfather] was so proud of that ship,” the uncle continued. “He went to all the reunions.”
The uncle further added that the USS Taylor performed as the escort for the USS Missouri battleship in Tokyo Bay for the official 1945 signing of the Japanese surrender. So it only made sense that the last two-year tour of Gary Rehm, prior to his plans of retiring, escorted him aboard the Fitzgerald destroyer, headed to “where his grandfather was,” the uncle asserted. “Japan.”
Gary Rehm Sprung Into Action Immediately
The Fitzgerald was positioned off the coast early Saturday morning at the time of the collision with ACX Crystal, the container ship. It was Gary Rehm who sprung into immediate action in order to save the kids. “He was saving guys,” the uncle said. “He saved quite a few of them.”
Xavier Martin, one of the shipmate or brothers who was a fatality in the incident, is reported to have attempted to call his father by phone when he was in Maryland a short while ago but was unable to get a hold of him. Darrold Martin, Xavier’s’ father, used his Father’s Day to call every father he knew, as well as the families of the deceased soldiers.
Darrold Martin, along with the parents of the six who were trapped in the collision were able to at least console each other by sharing the thought that in the most detrimental moments, their children had been accompanied by an elder soldier who chose to save his kids, or die trying, even though he could have survived leaving his comrades behind.
Gary Rehm Welcomed All His Kids With Open Arms
On Monday, the uncle also said that even if you were not one of his kids he would still extend the same measure of assistance. “He helped everybody who needed help,” the uncle insisted. “He was always ready to help anybody who needed it. He was just that kind of guy.”
But closest to his heart were those he called his kids. And whenever his ship was docked stateside in the vicinity of his Virginia home, he would make the invitation to all of them to join him for the holidays if they were away from home. “Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter,” the uncle recalled. According to the uncle, Gary Rehm did not have children of his own because “he had the Navy.”
That meant that he embraces all sailors as his kids- regardless of their race, sexual orientation, gender or background, which is the defining essence of what American true greatness is.
Gary Rehm Had Future Plans He Sacrificed For His Kids
The uncle admits that Gary Rehm had mentioned that he was possibly going to delay his retirement plans- which would have come at the end of his three-month deployment- if at that time he was promoted to chief “and command his own ship,” as said by the uncle.
Those plans came to a halt when Gary Rehm set out to bravely save his other kids, much like Navy Lt. William Fitzgerald, whom the USS Fitzgerald (DDG62) is named after, who sacrificed his life during the Vietnam War so that his comrades were able to escape an overwhelming force from the enemy, and Fitzgerald received a posthumous Navy Cross in honor of his sacrifice. Gary Rehm, a hero of no less bravery or selflessness, is also no less deserving of the honor of having a destroyer named after him.
Should a future destroyer be christened as the USS Rehm, as much as it should be, it is destined that future kids will recreate the arranged formation on the stem of the ship in his honor.