Flags across the state flew at half-staff on Monday in honor of a Connecticut sailor killed in a tragic collision.
The USS Fitzgerald Destroyer he was on collided with a container ship.
Tan Huynh was born in Vietnam and grew up in Oakville, CT.
He felt such passion for this country that he enlisted in the U.S. Navy just two years ago.
“When he joined, he met a lot of amazing people just like him,” said Mary Huynh, as she fondly remembered her brother Tan. “He never smiled so much before and he was passionate about something, finally.”
For the last two years, Tan, the oldest of four, was serving in the Navy as a sonar technician, making his family back home very proud.
“My mom, she accepted it and she was really proud of him, always bragging about him,” Mary Huynh said.
Even though serving in the Navy made family reunions few and far between, technology kept the tight-knit family together.
“I talked to him every time I saw him on active on Facebook. He was the first person I’d go to,” Mary Huynh said.
Those conversations would be full of family updates. Big or small, nothing was left out, but in the very last conversation Mary would have with Tan, she expressed an interest in following in her brother's footsteps and also serving our country.
“I was asking him questions about basic training because I was thinking about joining the Air Force,” Mary Huynh said.
On Friday evening, early Saturday morning in Japan, the USS Fitzgerald collided with a container ship.
Mary saw the news online.
“I was thinking to myself, this is the ship he's on. This is what it's called,” Mary Huynh said. “At 3 a.m., saying Tan was one of the seven people unaccounted for and we just cried and cried.”
Tan died on his 25th birthday. Six others were also killed. Lives dedicated to our country are gone. The memories and legacies now left behind.
“He always had a smile. No matter what he was doing, he always had a smile,” Mary Huynh said.
Tan left his mark in Connecticut, going to schools in Plainville, Naugatuck and in Watertown.
Even though the entire family has now re-located to Oklahoma, veterans at the local VFW say his service makes our state very proud.
“We all feel it, especially when it's close to home,” said Robert Neuman, who served in the Navy.
The Huynh family says Tan's body will be brought back to Oklahoma at some point this week or this weekend.
The flags in CT will remain at half-staff on the governor's orders until burial services are held.
The cause of the crash is still unknown, and U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal is calling for an immediate investigation.
“I am heartbroken by reports that a Connecticut sailor was killed among others who perished on the U.S.S. Fitzgerald. My thoughts and prayers are with the family. The Navy owes the family and the nation a prompt investigation,” Blumenthal said.
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