US destroyer collision: Portraits emerge of USS John S. McCain's missing sailors

Jacob Drake was planning to get married in July next year. He was one of the sailors who went missing after the collision on Monday.
Jacob Drake was planning to get married in July next year. He was one of the sailors who went missing after the collision on Monday. PHOTO: FACEBOOK/JANE GRACE

SINGAPORE - One was the jester in his family who could make anyone laugh. Another was going to get married in a year's time with his high-school sweetheart.

One of them, just three days before the mishap, had posted a Facebook link about another collision involving an American warship.

Portraits of the 10 missing sailors have emerged amid the grim confirmation on Tuesday (Aug 22) by the US Navy that several remains have been discovered in sealed compartments of the guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain. It had collided with oil tanker Alnic MC in Singapore waters on Monday.

On Aug 18, petty officer Charles Findley, 31, shared on his Facebook page a report by the US Navy that detailed how another destroyer, USS Fitzgerald, had flooded in a matter of minutes after it hit a Philippines-flagged container ship in June.

Seven sailors died in the accident.

Three days later on Aug 21, his own ship collided with the oil tanker in the Singapore Strait.

He is believed to be among the 10 sailors who were missing after the collision, which also left five injured.

The US Navy has not released the names of those missing, but seven have been identified on social media and reports by media outlets, including The Straits Times.

Apart from Mr Findley, they are: John Hoagland, Jr., 20; Jacob Drake, 20; Kenneth Smith, 22; Logan Palmer, 23; Dustin Doyon, age unknown; and Corey Ingram, 28.

Naval sailor Chris Eaton, 29, was hit with the double whammy that both Mr Findley and Mr Ingram were among the missing. He had served alongside them on previous ships.

Mr Eaton told The Straits Times that Mr Ingram was a close friend.

"He was very outgoing, always willing to lend a hand. If we were ever in the same city, we would meet up and go looking for a party. He could befriend anyone in any room - he just had one of those personalities," Mr Eaton said via Facebook Messenger.

He added that he was not as close to Mr Findley, whom he described as a "very smart" person.

"He liked to joke around, but not about his job. He was very good at it," he said.

Former security officer Tonia Jones DuVall, 47, told The Straits Times that her cousin, Mr Hoagland, who is from Texas, loved making people laugh.

"He will act all goofy and joke around, especially with the kids. He can make you laugh - even if you don't want to," she said of her cousin, who also went by the nickname "CJ".

"We are clinging to hope of him being alive no matter how small it seems," she added.

Ms April Brandon, the mother of Mr Smith, had told American media outlets her son followed his father and grandfather in joining the US Navy in part also because of the education it offered.

She added that his dream job is to be a video game developer.

Mr Drake's fiancee Megan Partlow, 21, told The Straits Times on Wednesday that her fiance's family had not heard from the Navy since Monday (Aug 21).

The two, who had met in high school in Ohio, planned to wed in July 2018.

On the announcement on Tuesday by US Pacific Fleet commander Scott Swift that several remains had been found, she said: "I think the waiting is going to be the hardest part. We are all trying to hold on."