The US Navy has released the identities of the sailors who were left dead or missing in the USS John S McCain’s collision with a merchant vessel near Singapore on Monday.
One of the ten men – who are aged 20 to 39 – has been found dead inside the ship. The others are still missing, but it’s thought they are now unlikely to have survived.
The Navy has given up on finding any more bodies out at sea and is focusing on finding the remaining men inside the flooded hull of the US destroyer.
These are the sailors that were left dead or missing in the horrific incident.
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Kenneth Aaron Smith, 22, of New Jersey
The body of Kenneth Smith (seen left and right) has been recovered from a flooded section of the USS John S. McCain. Smith was remembered as compassionate
The body of Smith, an Electronics Technician 3rd Class, is the only one to have been recovered by divers so far. He was found inside the John S McCain.
Smith, a third generation sailor, was born in Milford, Michigan, and followed his father first to Norfolk, Virginia, and then to Cherry Hill, New Jersey, across the river from Philadelphia, where his father was stationed.
He attended Cherry Hill High School, where he was president of the video game club, and graduated in 2013.
He then enlisted in 2014, following in the footsteps of his father and grandfather.
Speaking to NBC 10, his mother, April Brandon, described him as ‘an online sci-fi author, an animal and human rights activist, and a compassionate, smart man.’
She had initially hoped that he might have survived the crash, saying ‘I have faith in my son’s training. Men and women like my son are what makes America, and the world, great.’
His father, Darryl Smith, a naval Electronics Technician Third Class Petty Officer, released a statement prior to his son’s body being found, saying ‘I appreciate the courageous work of the crew in the aftermath of the collision and the on-going rescue efforts.’
‘He’s one of the best people I know, he always has time for the people that he cares about,’ said a friend, Lexi Mullner.
John Henry Hoagland III, 20, of Texas
Still missing is John Henry Hoagland III (left and right). He joined the Navy two years ago and said that it had made him a ‘better person’
Hoagland is an Electronics Technician 3rd Class from Killeen, Texas, who grew up in an army family.
While at Shoemaker High School in Killeen he signed up to the Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps – a decision he was glad to have made, the Killeen Daily Herald reported in 2015
‘It’s been life-changing,’ he said. ‘It stuck with me. It made me a better person and caused me to interact with people in a way I wouldn’t have otherwise.’
His mother, Cynthia Kemball, told the Daily Herald on Thursday that her son had been in the Navy for just over two years, and had always wanted to serve.
‘The first time he said he was joining the military was when he was 5,’ she said.
‘Then when he was 17 he started talking to recruiters… There was never any doubt (that he’d choose the Navy).’
In a Facebook post in June, Hoagland wrote: ‘I’ve been to a few gorgeous places since I’ve made it out to the Fleet (which, let’s be honest, a good few of us in A School were convinced was a myth).
‘But man, I still can’t get over just looking out over the ocean or staring up at all those stars at night.
‘I think those two things are at the top of my list of of favorite reasons for going Navy over any other branch.’
Jacob Daniel Drake, 21, of Ohio
Jacob Drake had been planning to return to the US ‘for good’ in December; he is still missing, the Navy said
An Electronics Technician 2nd Class from Champaign County, Drake originally from Columbus, Ohio, but attended Triad High School in Troy, Illinois.
He graduated in 2013, and joined the Navy at least in part because he wanted to see the world, his sister Veronica told the Springfield News-Sun.
She said he had enjoyed his time in Japan, particularly spending time hiking in the hills around the Navy’s Yokosuka base and visiting ‘cat cafes,’ where visitors can drink coffee alongside in-house fluffy companions.
He had recently told Veronica he would be back home on shore leave in November, and that in December he was ‘going to be back in the United States for good.’
Drake received the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal in July for going above and beyond the call of duty during Mid-Cycle Inspections aboard the McCain.
Timothy Thomas Eckels, Jr., 23, of Maryland
Timothy Thomas Eckels, Jr, had hoped to join the Army but was persuaded to join the Navy by his mom, who said it was safer. He is still missing, but his mom said he loves his job
Prior to joining the Navy in 2013 and rising to the rank of Information Systems Technician 2nd Class, Eckels attended Manchester Valley High School in Carroll County, from which he graduated in 2012.
A keen fan of the outdoors – particularly hiking and kayaking – Eckels is also a keen cook and has spent time with his mom Rachel in the kitchen since he was six months old.
He had originally hoped to join the Army, until Rachel forbade it, she told the Baltimore Sun.
‘Absolutely not,’ Rachel remembered telling him. ‘They’re the first to go to war, the first on the line.’ Instead, she advised him to join the Navy, for which she has also worked as a civilian contractor.
He signed up while still in high school, but he got off to a rough start.
After a delay due to health issues, he completed his training only to find himself back in Maryland, having been assigned to the National Security Agency at Fort Meade.
‘I remember him saying, “I didn’t join the Navy to fricking come back to Maryland,”‘ she said. ‘I said, “Just give it time. The field you’re in is very important, so they’re going to give you the best training at the NSA.”
‘Many times he doubted going into the Navy, but when he finally found his niche, he said, “I think I’m going to make a career out of this.”‘
After a false start – a planned move to San Diego fell through – he was finally shipped out to Japan in October.
It was his first time abroad, and he was thrilled by the experience, Rachel said, calling a couple of times a week to tell her of port calls in Vietnam, Australia and Singapore.
‘At night, the sea is so still that it looks like ice or a sheet of water,’ he told her.
He tried to call her at 8.55pm on Sunday. She said she missed the call, and thought she would be able to catch him on the next one.
Logan Stephen Palmer, 23, of Illinois
Logan Palmer was following a long family tradition by joining the Navy. His childhood pal said he was enjoying being on the ship, and has always been a ‘great person’
Born in Decatur, Interior Communications Electrician 3rd Class Palmer graduated Sangamon Valley High School in Niantic, just west of Decatur, in 2012.
He then studied at Richland Community College, from which he graduated with an associate’s degree in science in May 2015. He was an honors student in Phi Beta Kappa.
He then followed a long Palmer family tradition and joined the Navy, where he received a National Defense Service Medal, according to his personnel file.
His childhood friend, Aaron Wiggins, told the Chicago Tribune he was still reeling from the news.
“It hit me pretty hard,’ said Wiggins, who had followed Palmer’s adventures in the East on Facebook.
‘I just messaged him probably a week and a half ago. I was asking how he was doing. He said he was doing good and enjoying being on the ship, and they were going to a new station.’
‘He’s always been a great person,’ Wiggins, 24, recalled. ‘He was in Boy Scouts and made it all way to Eagle Scouts. He was a person you knew you could count on. You tell him what you need and he’d do it.’
The Navy issued a statement from Palmer’s family that read: ‘On behalf of our entire family, I want to thank all those who have expressed concern and offered prayers and support as we await word from the Navy on our son Logan.
‘As you can imagine, this is a very difficult time for our family and we respectfully request that you honor our privacy.’
Kevin Sayer Bushell, 26, of Maryland
Kevin Bushell is also still missing. He is described as a ‘smart kid’ who had done well, rising through the ranks of the Navy, and didn’t have ‘a mean bone in his body’
Bushell, an Electronics Technician 2nd Class, graduated from Gaithersburg High School in 2009 and held a number of jobs before joining the Navy seven years ago.
His father Thomas says that if Bushell is dead, then it was his time to go. ‘I think just God wanted him more than we did,’ Thomas said
It was there that he finally found his calling, his father, Thomas, told the Baltimore Sun.
‘He meshed well with the Navy,’ Thomas said. ‘He was doing well and coming up in the ranks, I mean, smart kid… It wasn’t anything anybody pushed him toward, as far as I know.’
Thomas said that he and his son would ride four-wheelers around together, and that Kevin was a kind soul.
‘There wasn’t a mean bone in his body,’ Thomas said. ‘He was a very good kid.’
Like most of his comrades, Bushell has not yet been recovered – dead or alive. But his father says that if he has passed away, then that was his time to go.
If he’s gone, ‘I think just God wanted him more than we did,’ Thomas said.
Dustin Louis Doyon, 26, of Connecticut
Dustin Doyon enlisted in 2015, six years after he left high school. He’s an active young man and is a fan of skiing and hiking. The missing man says people should ‘live the dream of dreamers’
An Electronics Technician 3rd Class, Doyon graduated Cathedral High School in Springfield, Massachusetts, in 2009. He enlisted in 2015, and signed up to the McCain in 2016.
An active young man, Doyon was a fan of skiing and hiking, according to his Facebook page, where he wrote: ‘Live the dream of dreamers. Where no word is worthy of a thought, no picture as vivid as a memory.’
His family told The Island Packet that they were still holding onto the hope that he might have survived and could return home.
They later released a statement that read: ‘We appreciate the courageous work of the crew in the aftermath of the collision and the continuing rescue efforts.
‘As you can imagine, this is a very difficult time for our family and we respectfully request that you honor our privacy.’
Corey George Ingram, 28, of New York
A ‘jokester at heart’ and a loyal friend to his community and his family, missing seaman Ingram joined the Navy to see the world
A native of Poughkeepsie, Information Systems Technician 2nd Class Ingram is a ‘jokester at heart’ and a reliable member of his family and community, his family told the Poughkeepsie Journal.
‘Poughkeepsie’s such a tight-knit community, there’s so much love,’ Sherona Gardner his cousin, said.
‘His smile would light up a room,’ his cousin Sherona Gardner, said
‘He has a big family and people supporting him all around the neighborhood, and that’s part of the reason why he wanted to join the Navy and see the world.’
‘There was nothing but jokes and laughs from him,’ Gardner said. ‘His smile would light up a room.’
He graduated from Poughkeepsie High School in 2006 and nearby Duchess Community College in 2008.
His former principal, Bob Murphy, said Ingram was ‘like most our students – good people, come to school, take care of business, move through our system and set themselves up to be productive members of society, which obviously he had accomplished.’
‘It’s just unfortunate that we are at this point,’ he added.
Charles Nathan Findley, 31, of Missouri
Charles Findley had overcome low self-esteem and personal obstacles to excel in the Navy. He is a First Class officer and married a Japanese woman while stationed in the country
Findley followed in his father’s footsteps when he joined the Navy, and eventually became Electronics Technician 1st Class, his sister, Tina Greim, told Fox 4 News.
‘Charles and I spent pretty much all of our childhood attached at the hip,’ she said. ‘We moved around a lot as children with a Navy dad.’
They grew up in Parkville, and Findley got his GED at Central High School in St Joseph after overcoming personal obstacles and low self-esteem, other family members told the channel.
And when he joined the Navy he found his calling as an electronics technician, they said.
‘He was really into computers. That’s what he loved to do,’ Greim said.
From here, Findley’s life really took off, she said. ‘It’s crazy how much he excelled. He’s always graduated first of his class. He became First Class.
‘He’s getting awards; he’s sailing around the world; he fell in love with a woman named Riho and married her.’
His older sister, Amy Winters, said the Navy was his live.
‘That is his dream. He loved traveling the world with the Navy and he had so many friends and the Navy truly is his family,’ she said.
‘My brother especially loved the Japanese culture and living overseas. He also had a passion for rebuilding cars.’
At the moment, however, the family say they’re struggling due to the lack of information about Findley.
‘It’s just hard,’ Winters said. ‘Every time we hear something we’re kind of just keeping count and saying that’s okay there’s still a few more. He could still be alive out there, maybe found in a pocket of air. We don’t know.’
Abraham Lopez, 39, of Texas
The ninth missing seaman is also the oldest – Abraham Lopez (left), 39. He signed up to the Navy in 1997 and was just about to celebrate his 20th year in service when the crash occurred
The oldest and most experienced of the missing crewmembers, Interior Communications Electrician 1st Class Lopez joined the navy in 1997 and was just about to celebrate his 20th year in service.
Lopez, of El Paso, was in charge of the ship’s communications, and describes himself as a ‘highly motivated technical leader’ on his LinkedIn profile.
Lopez had been stationed in Japan, Spain, Pearl Harbor, San Diego and the Great Lakes before being asigned to the McCain in November 2014, KCBD reported.
He is an an enlisted surface warfare specialist, and has been awarded a Navy Marine Corps Commendation Medal and the Navy Marine Corps Achievement Medal.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said in a statement that Lopez and Hoagland ‘represent the best Texas has to offer’ and extended his condolences to the family.
Search efforts are now shifting away from the ocean and onto the US McCain (pictured) itself. It’s believed searching the flooded areas of the ship will turn up the missing crew
On Thursday, the Navy suspended wider search and rescue operations for the McCain crew in the sea off Singapore, choosing to focus on searching the ship itself.
‘After more than 80 hours of multinational search efforts, the US Navy suspended search and rescue efforts for missing USS John S McCain sailors in an approximately 2,100-square mile area east of the Straits of Malacca and Singapore,’ it said.
An international search-and-rescue operation involving aircraft, divers and vessels from the United States, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Australia had been looking for the missing sailors over an area of about 5,500 square kilometres around the crash site.
Earlier on Thursday, the Navy said a medical examination of human remains found by the Malaysian navy about eight nautical miles northwest of the collision site were not one of its missing sailors.
Singapore’s Maritime and Port Authority said the multi-agency search and rescue operation was suspended from 9pm local time on Thursday.
Singapore will continue to support the US Navy in their search on the warship, it said.
The US Navy has now recalled its helicopters (one pictured) and ships, and is no longer searching the ocean. It is focusing its search on the ship itself
The pre-dawn collision on Monday was the fourth major accident for the US Pacific Fleet this year and has prompted a review of its operations.
The Navy on Wednesday removed Seventh Fleet Commander Vice Admiral Joseph Aucoin from his post, citing ‘a loss of confidence in his ability to command’ after the run of accidents.
Aucoin had been due to step down next month. Rear Admiral Phil Sawyer takes command of the fleet.
This week, the U.S. Navy flagged plans for temporary and staggered halts in operations across its global fleet to allow staff to focus on safety.
On Wednesday, Seventh Fleet ships deployed at a facility in Yokosuka, Japan, participated in a one-day operational pause in which officers and crew underwent fresh risk management and communications training.
The Seventh Fleet, headquartered in Japan, operates as many as 70 ships, including the US Navy’s only forward-deployed aircraft carrier, and has about 140 aircraft and 20,000 sailors.
Vice Adm. Joseph Aucoin has had to step down as Commander of the U.S. 7th Fleet after the McCain became the fourth collision this year under his watch. The Navy said this was not an apportioning of blame, but just because his superiors had lost confidence in him