Families, friends of missing sailors proud, praying
Families in the United States are awaiting word on missing seamen who were aboard the USS John McCain when it collided with an oil tanker on Monday near Singapore.
The military says five sailors were injured and 10 were missing following the collision. The collision tore a hole in the ship’s left rear hull and flooded adjacent compartments, including crew berths and machinery and communication rooms. The military has not identified any of the sailors, but family members in Michigan, Illinois, Texas and Ohio so far have confirmed some of them. Here are brief portraits of the missing as reported by families:
John Hoagland, 20, Texas
When looking out from the deck of the USS John McCain, Hoagland often was struck by the immensity of the Pacific Ocean and the sparkling clarity of the stars above.
His mother, Cynthia Kimball, said Hoagland knew as a 5-year-old that military service was for him. A recruiter steered him toward the Navy.
“He wouldn’t have wanted to be in any other branch,” Kimball said Wednesday. “He sends me pictures of just water.”
Hoagland spent his early years in Cleveland, Texas, northeast of Houston, and later lived in the Central Texas city of Killeen. He had long expressed an interest in stepping out of Texas and traveling the world, she said.
Hoagland enlisted in 2015 and has served aboard the McCain since October as an electronic technician.
“He’s very proud of what he does,” says Kimball, who lives with her husband at Fort Benning in Georgia.
Logan Palmer, 23, Illinois
Palmer loved serving in the Navy because it let him see the world after an eye injury kept him from being an Air Force fighter pilot, brother Austin Palmer said.
Austin Palmer said his family is in shock and worried but hopeful after hearing Logan is among the missing. He told WAND-TV in Decatur, Illinois, “I speak for my family when I say that we have put our faith in God’s mighty hands.”
The interior communications electrician 3rd class petty officer graduated from Sangamon Valley High School. His family said in a statement released by the U.S. Navy that his relatives are thankful for all who have offered prayers and support as they await word from the military. They called it “a very difficult time for our family.”
The Palmer family attends Life Foursquare Church, where the Rev. Mark Cooper told the (Decatur) Herald and Review there are hundreds of people praying, “pulling together and believing for the best in this situation.”
U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis said he’s spoken with Palmer’s mother, Theresa Palmer, and called the family “extremely proud and patriotic.”
Jacob Drake, 21, Ohio
Drake’s fiancee, Megan Partlow, said she has been planning their wedding scheduled for next summer, but now is overwhelmed and unsure how to proceed.
Partlow, 20, told the Columbus Dispatch that Drake last texted her on Sunday. Drake’s relatives gathered at their home in the rural Ohio village of Cable, about 50 miles west of Columbus, but she said they aren’t ready to talk.
“I just want him to be safe,” she said.
Drake graduated from Triad High School, and fellow graduate Boston Gregg remembers Drake once fit himself into a school locker “just to prove a teacher wrong.”
“Everybody I know is praying for him and pulling for him,” Gregg said.
Ken Smith, 22, Virginia
April Brandon described her son, Ken Smith, as a third-generation sailor whose service and character makes their family proud.
The Michigan woman Brandon told Detroit media outlets that Smith joined the Navy out of a desire to serve his country but also for the education it provided. His long-term goal is to develop video games.
Smith, who works in radar technology, is in the fourth year of a seven-year commitment and has considered a military career like his father. Smith grew up in Novi, Michigan, and moved to Norfolk, Virginia, as a teen with his father.
Brandon said she was visited by two officers Monday at her home in the Oakland County community of Milford. They said he is among the missing, but she said her son is “tough” and holds out hope.
“I just want to be over there searching,” she told WXYZ-TV. “His father and I couldn’t be prouder of our son. … He’s a hero.”