BALTIMORE (WJZ) — WJZ is learning more about the Maryland sailor who was one of seven killed on a U.S. Naval destroyer off the coast of Japan.
The Navy identified 24-year-old Personnel Specialist First Class Xavier Alec Martin as one of the sailors who was killed when the U.S.S. Fitzgerald collided with a cargo ship over the weekend.
WJZ’s Amy Yensi spoke to his father just hours after the names of the victims were released, and he expressed gratitude for the outpouring of support and says he misses his son dearly.
“He was a total gentleman,” said Darrold Martin, Xavier’s father. “He was the nicest kid. He was very mature for his age…I can’t even put it into words. He was just a beautiful child.”
Darrold said that his son was planning to take a leave from the Navy, but decided to go on this final trip because it would be a short one.
As waters rushed into the U.S.S. Fitzgerald – after the crushing impact – Xavier Martin made one last phone call to his father in Baltimore County.
It would be the last time the 24-year old called home.
Martin was one of seven sailors who died when the Navy ship collided with a Filipino vessel called the ACX Crystal – a cargo ship nearly four times bigger than the Navy ship – near its home port in Yokosuka, Japan, on Saturday.
Navy officials say much of the crew was asleep.
At the Martin home in Halethorpe, fellow members of the Navy stopped by to pay their final respects to the grieving father, who says he hasn’t been able to sleep or eat since first hearing about the crash. But he appreciates the calls and outpouring of support from all over the world.
Martin was a 2010 alumnus of Lansdowne High School, and after landing an internship with the NSA in 10th grade, Martin graduated from high school with honors.
Darrold Martin, Xavier’s father, says he raised his son as a single dad since the age of 10.
Xavier Martin joined the Navy to follow in his father’s footsteps, and was promoted just three weeks ago.
The father and son pair were so close, they even had matching tattoos of Darrold’s favorite catch phrase. A tribute to happier times for a dad who lost his only son on Father’s Day weekend.
[Reporter: “This tattoo, what does it say?”] “We will figure it out.”
There are now at least four investigations into the incident, but according to marinetraffic.com, the cargo ship made a u-turn shortly before the crash, and was headed in the other direction.
In addition to the Navy sailors that lost their lives, three others had to be airlifted off the ship by the Japanese Coast Guard, and are said to be responsive.
Martin’s remains will arrive at the Dover Airforce Base in Delaware on Tuesday.
The family plans to be in Dover to give Martin a hero’s welcome.
The Japanese Coast Guard has reportedly finished questioning the 20 unharmed Filipino crew members that were on the cargo ship. The company that chartered the vessel said its thoughts were with the U.S. sailors who died.