A media firestorm ensued when a U.S. Navy captain complained about an outbreak of the coronavirus on the USS Theodore Roosevelt. The ship was forced to dock in Guam late last month for sailors affected by COVID-19 to get necessary treatment — but unfortunately, the deadly disease is still taking its toll.
A 41-year-old sailor on the Roosevelt died of the virus Monday, according to the Washington Examiner, and the Navy has now identified him as Chief Petty Officer Charles Robert Thacker, Jr., of Fort Smith, Arkansas.
Thacker, an aviation ordinanceman, had reportedly been transferred to an intensive care unit at the hospital in Guam when he was found to be unresponsive.
Incredibly, the Navy said it was able to quickly transport Thacker’s wife, another Navy service member who was stationed in San Diego, California, to Guam to be by the sailor’s side ahead of his passing, the Examiner reported.
Fighting the virus
After a letter he wrote about conditions on the USS Theodore Roosevelt was leaked to the press, Captain Brett Crozier was relieved of his command and replaced by Captain Carlos Sardiello, The Hill reported. In a statement following Thacker’s death, Sardiello expressed his condolences to the sailor’s family.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the family during this difficult time,” he said, according to the New York Post. “Our number one priority continues to be the health and well-being of all members of the Theodore Roosevelt Strike Group and we remain steadfast in our resolve against the spread of this virus.”
Hundreds of sailors on the Roosevelt remain sick with COVID-19, the Examiner reported. At least 600 on the ship have tested positive for the disease since the outbreak began, including former commander Crozier.
Keeping his legacy alive
In addition to Sardiello, members of Congress representing the state of Arkansas have also weighed in on Thacker’s passing.
“Chief Petty Officer Charles Thacker, Jr. honorably served our country in uniform,” Sen. John Boozman (R-AR) said in a statement, according to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. “His dedication to our nation was perhaps only surpassed by the tremendous love he had for his dear family,” Boozman added. “We honor his life and service in uniform, and pledge to keep this proud son of Arkansas’s legacy alive in the years to come.”
Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) similarly said he was “saddened” by Thacker’s death. “His service to the country has earned my utmost gratitude, and my deepest condolences go to his family, friends, and crewmates,” the senator remarked, the Democrat-Gazette reported.
Rep. Steve Womack (R-AR), who represents the district where Thacker resided, said the sailor “defended our nation and upheld his duty to serve and protect freedom.”
“This is a great loss against an unprecedented enemy,” he added, according to the Democrat-Gazette, “and we must continue to amplify resources on all levels to defeat this virus and safeguard personnel.”