The Young Men We Lost on the USS John S. McCain

September 1, 2017

I’ve thought quite a bit about the ten sailors who died at sea on the American destroyer, USS John S. McCain. All of their bodies have finally been recovered. Looking at the faces of these fine men, it struck me just how young most of them were. Many younger than my own two kids, who I still think of as kids at 23 and 27 years old. Reading about each sailor’s aspirations, I realized every single one of them served in technology roles: Communications, Electronics, or Information Systems. I can think of no more appropriate use of this space than to comment on and acknowledge those Americans who can no longer do so for themselves.

According to the Government Accountability Office, the Navy was warned, in three separate reports, sailors do not receive proper training, and work an average of 108 hours a week. Apparently, sailors are asked to do more than their duty. Then, sleep.

In our crazy world, no sailor, or for that matter, no one in any uniform should ever assume they are safe. However, these sailors deserved to know that when they finally put their head on the pillow, someone else was doing their duty by watching over that ship. Yes, of course their shipmates, but particularly their commanders.

With the June 17 collision of the USS Fitzgerald this has been a tragic summer, especially because the Navy’s own report placed blame with a “flawed watch stander teamwork and inadequate leadership”. The official report has not been issued on last week’s collision, but evidence so far suggests the same.

Anyone who has seen the movie, “Dunkirk,” had this visceral experiential message: drowning in the hull of a ship is horrifying. When this happens because of gross mismanagement and ship-level dereliction of duty, what a horrific waste of lives. Ten times over. Back to the McCain, could anyone imagine the devastation of losing ten separate sons? It is not even possible to comprehend. Even worse, this devastation hit ten separate sons and ten separate families. What a shame. What a loss of treasure. National treasure. Family treasure.

God Bless Kenneth Aaron Smith, 22; Charles Nathan Findley, 31; Abraham Lopez, 39; Kevin Sayer Bushell, 26; Jacob Daniel Drake, 21; Timothy Thomas Eckels Jr., 23; Corey George Ingram, 28; Dustin Louis Doyon, 26; John Henry Hoagland III, 20; and Logan Stephen Palmer, 23. Correction: Make that seventeen times over, including the seven boys lost on the destroyer, Fitzgerald. God bless Dakota Rigsby who was only 19 years old. He went to bed believing in the Navy, and believing someone else was doing their duty, on watch. God bless his shipmates: Shingo Alexander Douglass, 25; Ngoc T Truong Huynh, 25; Noe Hernandez, 26; Victor Ganzon Sibayan, 23; Xavier Alec Martin, 24; Gary Leo Rehm Jr., 37.

Rest in peace. Thank you for your service.

Post Author, Brian Desrosier has been serving the Greenwich community for over thirty years as the owner of Lighthouse Technology Partners and the Computer Super Center.