How This Navy Sailor Showed the Greatest Love

And made the ultimate sacrifice for his fellow seamen and his fellow Americans

A Navy sailor sacrificed his life for his fellow shipmates.

Fire Controlman 1st Class Gary Rehm Jr., 37, died aboard the USS Fitzgerald, which collided with a Philippine-flagged merchant vessel on Saturday near Japan.

Rehm, a native of Elyria, Ohio, saved more than a dozen lives before he perished. Six other brave men died as well.

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The collision happened in the early hours of the day, a time that many of the sailors were likely sleeping.

The other vessel “punctured the steel armor of the [Fitzgerald], opening a hole into the quarters, where more than 100 sailors slept,” The Daily Mail reported.

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As water began flooding in, Rehm repeatedly “went to save his fellow shipmates,” as his family told the Associated Press. “They said Rehm went in 20 times to save the others who were underwater.”

Rehm wasn’t just any seaman. He called the sailors his “kids,” as his uncle, Stanley Rehm Jr., mentioned to The Daily Beast. “He said, ‘If my kids die, I’m going to die,'” the uncle said.

“He could have walked away and been safe,” he added.

Emergency hatches were closed off after the ship took on too much water.

“We are all deeply saddened by the tragic loss of our fellow shipmates,” Acting Navy Secretary Sean Stackley said in a statement. “As details emerge, we can all be proud of the heroic effort by the crew to tend to the needs of those injured and save the ship from further damage while returning safely to port.”

“The sailors saved by Gary Rehm will spend the rest of their lives knowing that someone loved them enough to give his life for them,” said Jim Denison, a speaker, writer and teacher focusing on cultural and contemporary issues, on the Denison Forum website. “Imagine the sense of personal worth and significance such knowledge would bring.”

Related: What the Bible Says About Seizing the Day

Denison said Rehm’s sacrifice recalled God’s tremendous love and sacrifice for humanity: Scripture tells us in John 15:13, “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.”

Rehm lived in Virginia with his wife, Erin. He was due to retire from the Navy in approximately three months.

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