HAMPTON, Va. - Friends and family are mourning the loss of a Sailor killed in the USS Fitzgerald collision who lived in Hampton.
Petty Officer 1st Class Gary Rehm Jr. hails from Elyria, Ohio, but had been living in Hampton Roads.
He is one of seven Sailors who died after the USS Fitzgerald collided with a larger container ship off the coast of Japan early Saturday morning.
Rehm's father, Gary Rehm Sr., told our sister station WJW that other shipmates report his son saved several sailors and died trying to rescue more.
"I know he did save some, I do know that," Rehm Sr. told WJW.
In Hampton, Chris Stacey had become friendly with Rehm Jr. over the course of many years of being neighbors.
"Gary was just a good, down to earth fellow," he told News 3's Todd Corillo Tuesday.
"I mean my heart almost stopped. I am real fond of Gary. He’s one of those guys you can’t help but like," he continued, explaining the moment he learned his neighbor was among the fallen.
To those who knew Rehm Jr., the news that he died while trying to save others comes as no surprise.
"I think the word hero is used very loosely now a days sometimes for just about anything anymore. He’s a true definition of an American hero as far as I’m concerned," Stacey commented.
The Navy is still investigating the cause of the collision.