NPR

A Hero's Story From The Scramble To Survive On The USS Fitzgerald

On June 17, sailors were jolted awake as seawater surged in after a collision. They had minutes to escape. Seven didn't make it. One of them, Gary Rehm, saved a shipmate before he became trapped.
Erin Rehm receives the American flag from Vice Adm. Jan Tighe during the graveside service for her husband, U.S. Navy Fire Controlman 1st Class Gary Rehm Jr. at Arlington National Cemetery on Aug. 16. He was one of seven sailors killed on June 17 when the USS Fitzgerald collided with a cargo ship off the coast of Japan. A Navy report says Rehm helped rescue one of his shipmates. Source: U.S. Army photo by Elizabeth Fraser/Arlington National Cemetery

At 1:30 a.m. on June 17, sailors on the USS Fitzgerald were jolted awake in their bunks. Some were thrown to the floor. Their guided missile destroyer had just collided with a cargo ship off the coast of Japan.

A gaping hole was gashed into their living quarters, two levels below deck, and they were engulfed in a rush of cold seawater.

"It's coming in in torrents. So there's currents and it's beginning to swirl, so mattresses are being picked up, pillows are picked up. Anything that's loose. Tables, chairs are beginning to swirl around," said , a retired who has studied the of the collision.

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