When Gary Leo Rehm Jr. graduated from high school in 1998, he knew right away what he wanted to do: join the Navy, following in his grandfather’s footsteps.
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As the Elyria, Ohio native rose to Fire Controlman 1st Class, he found a special place in his heart for his fellow sailors on the USS Fitzgerald, even inviting sailors to join him when celebrating holidays.
“The sailors on the ship he called his kids,” said his uncle, Stanley Rehm Jr., “He called them his kids.”
So when the USS Fitzgerald collided with a container ship this past Saturday, Rehm knew he’d do anything to keep his “kids” safe.
“He said, ‘If my kids die, I’m going to die.'”
Rehm saved the lives of at least 20 of his ‘kids’ after the collision, helping sailors trapped in flooding compartments.
Then he ran back in, and found himself trapped. He died along with 6 of his comrades, sacrificing himself when he could’ve safely walked away.
“When we heard that he ran in and helped save other sailors from drowning, we said that was Gary. That was Gary to a T,”
“He helped everyone who needed help,” said his uncle. “He was always ready to help anybody who needed it. He was just that kind of guy.”
Those 20 sailors Rehm saved will surely never forget the man who sacrificed his life for his fellow saviors, his kids.
If you would like to help, his loved ones have set up a GoFundMe for Gary’s wife and parents.
Share this man’s story of heroism today.
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