In the aftermath Saturday’s deadly accident between a U.S. Navy destroyer and a civilian cargo ship off the coast of Japan, we are starting to learn more about the seven servicemen who were tragically killed. According to reports, Fire Controlman 1st Class Gary Leo Rehm Jr. lost his life heroically diving into a flooded compartment in order to save his shipmates.
In an interview with WKYC-TV, Rehm’s uncle, Stanley Rehm, explained that while the USS Fitzgerald was taking on water, his nephew ran toward danger, entering the flooded area to bring trapped sailors to safety.
“He went back to get the other ones and I guess from what I understand they had to close the hatch, because the ship was taking on water,” Stanley said. “He died a hero trying to save the people on his ship.”
It is believed that Rehm’s selfless act may have saved 20 lives.
While the Navy has yet to confirm the account, People reports that the story is being widely circulated among sailors. Rehm, a 37-year-old from Elyria, Ohio, joined the Navy right out of high school in 1998. He was following in the footsteps of his grandfather, who served in the Navy in World War II, and was just three months from retiring with full benefits when he passed. According to his uncle, he was married but did not have any children.
“He always helped everybody,” Stanley said. “Somebody needed a helping hand, he was there to help them. He was just that kind of guy.”