CLEVELAND, Texas - A sailor from Cleveland is among the 10 sailors reported missing after the USS John McCain collided with another ship Monday.
The family of John “C.J.” Hoagland said he was serving aboard the U.S. destroyer when it slammed into an oil tanker east of Singapore. He had been serving on the ship since October 2016, according to his family.
“I want him to come home. I want to know where he is, but I don’t know what to think anymore," said Cynthia Kimball, Hoagland's mother.
She said a friend of her son called her on Monday and said they hadn't heard from Hoagland. An hour later, the Navy contacted her and other family members about the crash.
"When we first saw the news report about the McCain and the collision and 10 sailors missing, we never had a thought that he might be one of the missing," said Larry Reed, Hoagland's uncle, who lives in Cleveland.
Reed said Hoagland, 20, works as an electronic technician with the Navy.
Relatives said Hoagland is a 2015 graduate of Shoemaker High School in Killeen, where he participated in junior ROTC, a federal program made in high school that is sponsored by the U.S. armed forces.
"He was 5 when he said he wanted to go into the military, and he was dead set on it," Kimball said. "He cares about people and he cares about what he does. He loves this country.”
Kimball said she and her son and daughter used to live in Killeen because her husband was stationed at Fort Hood. They recently moved to Fort Benning in Georgia.
"He loves his job. He loves where he's at, He loves the people he works with," Kimball said. "We're proud of him. He's a very smart kid."
The commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet said Tuesday that remains of sailors were found in a compartment of the military ship as divers searched flooded sections of the vessel.
Kimball said she and her family have not been notified of any new developments since Tuesday morning and are holding out hope that Hoagland will be found safe.
“Not to give up hope, and we’ve asked everybody that we know to say a prayer and pray for a miracle that he’ll be recovered and that he’ll still be alive and healthy," Reed said.
Reed was also in the Navy. He worked as an electronic technician during the Vietnam War.
"He’s a very good young man, has a great head on his shoulders, has a level head and he knew what his future was for him," Reed said of Hoagland.
He said his nephew has plans to become an officer.
Reed said he's still puzzled as to how a collision happened, given the technology ships have on board.
On social media, friends, family memebers and strangers are showing their support and love for Hoagland and his family.
"I was really shaken this morning, I literally talked to him a few weeks ago," said Fernanda, a doctor who went to high school and was in JROTC with Hoagland.
She said she found out through social media that he was missing and describes her friend from high school as someone who is determined.
"The John I know doesn't give up that easily. He's competitive and that's his No. 1 trait. That's what I remember him for. He's got a strong fighting spirit," Fernanda said.
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