The USS Theodore Roosevelt sailor who died of COVID-19 has been identified as 41-year-old Charles Robert Thacker, a father of two whose active-duty wife rushed to Guam to be by his side, officials said.
Aviation Ordnanceman Chief Petty Officer Charles Robert Thacker Jr., of Fort Smith, Arkansas, who tested positive for the illness on March 30, died April 13 at the US Naval Hospital in Guam, according to the Navy.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the family during this difficult time,” the aircraft carrier’s commanding officer, Capt. Carlos Sardiello, said in a statement.
“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,” he added.
His wife, Symantha Thacker, a sailor who is stationed in San Diego, arrived in Guam two days before he died, the Navy said.
Thacker, who enlisted in the Navy in December 1997, had previously served on the Roosevelt from January to July 2016, according to Stars and Stripes.
His service awards include the Enlisted Aviation Warfare Specialist badge, the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal and the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, the news outlet reported.
Thacker was an avid off-roading, photography and shooting enthusiast, according to his Facebook page, which features a photo of him firing a .300 Winchester Magnum rifle.
The Arkansas congressional delegation offered its condolences.
“This is a great loss against an unprecedented enemy, and we must continue to amplify resources on all levels to defeat this virus and safeguard personnel,” Republican Rep. Steve Womack said in a statement.
Republican Sen. John Boozman praised Thacker’s dedication to his country and love for his family.
“[Chief] Petty Officer Thacker’s appreciation for the special things in life — particularly his loved ones and passions — reminds us how precious time really is and how this virus poses a threat to all of us, even the warriors dedicated to defending America,” he said.
The Roosevelt’s commanding officer, Capt. Brett Crozier, was dismissed after he pleaded for help with the coronavirus outbreak aboard the ship in a letter that was leaked to a San Francisco newspaper.
Crozier, who also tested positive for COVID-19, was dismissed by then-Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly after sounding the alarm about the outbreak in the leaked memo.
Modly later resigned after delivering a speech to the Roosevelt’s crew on the ship’s public address system in which he slammed Crozier as “stupid” for not realizing his message would be leaked.
On Thursday, Defense Secretary Mark Esper said Crozier could be reinstated and that he’ll be the one to make the call.
More than 600 crew members on the carrier have tested positive for the deadly bug.