RIP Fire Controlman First Class Gary Rehm Jr., USS Fitzgerald Hero


"Land of the free, because of the brave..."
10-Year Member
Dec 12, 2012
That's the kind of sailor junior naval officers should strive to be worthy of leading. That's why it's an honor, every day, to serve or have served, beside shipmates, enlisted or officer, junior or senior, who will take action. Military people can go in harm's way every day, not just in the combat zone.

It's a utilitarianistic world on ships (including merchant) and subs. Everyone in there knows saving the many and the ship could be at the cost of others. Compartments are sealed to prevent further flooding and preserve buoyancy. Every effort is made to get people out, but there comes a time when the hatches must be secured, no matter who is inside. Heartbreakingly, even if living. I am sorry for the picture that paints, but Petty Officer Rehm knew what the potential cost could be, put others before self, and accepted the possible outcome for himself. I salute him with every ounce of respect I can muster.

Many here on SAF with military backgrounds often urge candidates to really think about the obligated service after the SA or ROTC. This is one of the things in the back of our minds.

The sea is a hard and beautiful mistress. These kinds of things don't happen often, but when they do, and new regulations/policies/procedures get written, it is said "they are written in sailors' blood."
Capt MJ nailed it. There was some DCA in charge of the ship's preparedness, training and response in this exact situation. They could be a few weeks to a dozen plus months removed from reporting to the ship. DCA is a very common first tour Ensign assignment. At some point an officer made the call to close that hatch based upon the info they had among chaos. That person, the investigation, the SWO community and others, the media will scrutinize like there is not tomorrow. There are brand new ensigns reporting to ships around the world just a few weeks removed from graduation who could be in this exact situation. So as you look at a SA or ROTC remember what awaits at the end. Degrees, GPAs, OOM, masters degrees didn't mean anything at that moment in time.
It's the same sense of duty the military pilots have, who, if their bird was in trouble, would take every step to steer it toward a crash site free of people and houses, even if it meant reducing or eliminating their own chance of survival. Actually, all pilots, military or civilian - I like to think ordinary people choose to do extraordinary things.
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Ironic in a sad and beautiful way that PO Rehm lived up to the Fitzgerald's namesake.

Occasionally I ask my son if he could pull that trigger, push that button, or give that order, in a kind of reminder at what would be at stake someday. He's sometimes hesitant to answer, but he does acknowledge that knowledge and training are powerful tools.
If the investigations support this account of his actions, I hope they promote him to Chief Petty Officer posthumously, though I admit I don't know the precedent on that. Ditto an award of the Navy and Marine Corps Medal, the highest award for heroism in a non-combat situation, to him and others with documented risk of life to save others.
As tragic and heart wrenching (and heroic) as this incident is, it should be a reality check for every young cadet-hopeful. This site is a valuable resource for advice and direction for SA and ROTC applicants. Most are concerned with increasing their chances for a scholarship or looking for a better chance of getting their dream position after graduation. However, as a parent, this really nails home the reality of the sacrifices our loved ones are really signing up for! God bless all of them!
Navy and Marine Corps Medal should be presented at the minimum. Next Destroyer should have his name proudly displayed.

Any person who, while serving in any capacity with the U.S. Navy or Marine Corps distinguishes himself/herself by heroism not involving actual conflict with the enemy. For acts of life saving it is required that the action be performed at the risk of one's own life.

It is a reality check for all who go in harms way whatever service or job.
It is too painful to read, knowing the circumstances which called upon his heroic (I'm sure not in his mind) sacrifice.
It is too painful to read, knowing the circumstances which called upon his heroic (I'm sure not in his mind) sacrifice.
cb7893, yes it is painful but doubt it was painful in his mind. It's what we do or did as the case may be. Proud of my shipmate and at the same time devastated that it happened. I would have been honored to have served with him given the chance.
A USNA 1/c sponsor daughter was at the house over the weekend transitioning from her SWO cruise to internship block, said 7 mids (likely mix of USNA and NROTC) were on FITZGERALD. They got the most real-life training you can get, nighttime GQ (General Quarters) for ship collision, damage control and fighting for the survival of the ship in a chaotic setting. I hope they were filled with awe at the crew's actions and sobered by the "this is not a drill" reality. A searing memory for many reasons, underscoring why learning to think clearly and act decisively with disciplined and trained team responses in a dangerous environment is the desired outcome of many of the rules and practices at USNA about trivial stuff, which starts that pattern of thinking.
Capt MJ thanks for info. Was curious if any Mids on there. Hope they give some lessons learned upon return of academic year.
Capt MJ thanks for info. Was curious if any Mids on there. Hope they give some lessons learned upon return of academic year.
I can't even imagine that. It makes me wonder if they are more inspired to serve or it gives them doubts. Our DD's ship that she was on for her summer cruise, this month, had a fire aboard it. I thought that was bad until this tragedy occurred. Heartbreaking for all involved.
cb7893, yes it is painful but doubt it was painful in his mind.

My point exactly. That's the whole point. He was doing his job as I'm sure he saw it. I'm sure he would ask, "Why all the fuss about me? What about the other 6 sailors who perished?" Others were not heroic. There is negligence and there is criminal negligence and this determination is as important as how these sailors are remembered

They can name a destroyer, an aircraft carrier, or the Pentagon for him. It wouldn't be enough. If the reports are true, he deserves the highest possible recognition for selfless bravery. He represents the best of the military, the best of his generation... he's everything we claim to be as a nation. He's the nameless Gob they give speeches about after they're dead.

Guys and gals below the waterline, who don't even know why their ship is where it is. All the brass and politicians wringing their hands over the DPRK...And their ship is broadsided by a shopping mall.

I've heard my DS talk about the E's in his platoon who'd never been 30 miles outside of Jefferson County, TN or Cook County, IL who have no idea why they are where they are and I assume they are much like the kids sleeping below the water line.
Capt MJ thanks for info. Was curious if any Mids on there. Hope they give some lessons learned upon return of academic year.

Caveated with it's clear my source is hearsay from a mid, but it would make sense at this time of year. Having just returned from being at sea with her ship, and observed/participated in drills, I think seeing the coverage of this incident made a lot of things click in her mind.
I figured there would be some on there. Understand it's heresay at this point.