Fire Controlman 1st Class Gary Rehm Jr. was an irreplaceable American hero, yet you probably don’t know his name. The Navy sailor, who died Saturday in the collision between the destroyer USS Fitzgerald and a container ship, managed to save at least 20 sailors by going back to rescue those who might have been trapped.
Sadly, the 37-year-old Rehm would be one of the seven sailors who would die in the tragedy. According to The Daily Beast, he was trapped in a berthing compartment when the flooding ship needed to be sealed off.
The ship “experienced extensive damage and flooding after a collision with the Filipino container ship at 0220 local time, 17 June, approx. 56 nm off the coast of Honshu, Japan,” the Navy said in a statement.
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“The damage included a significant impact under the ship’s pilothouse on the starboard side and a large puncture below the ship’s waterline, opening the hull to the sea,” it continued. “The ship suffered severe damage rapidly flooding three large compartments that included one machinery room and two berthing areas for 116 crew. The commanding officer’s cabin was also directly hit, trapping the CO inside.”
Rehm was one of the seven missing sailors after the accident. According to the Elyria Chronicle-Telegram, the Ohio native and career Navy man was soon to leave the service.
“The way I feel right now is shocked,” Rehm’s cousin Brad said. “He had three months left until he retired.”
His remains were found Sunday after a search. While he may be gone, he certainly isn’t forgotten; tales of Rehm’s heroism quickly began to spread… [CONTINUED ON NEXT PAGE]