Joshua “Josh” Aaron Ray Newton tried to give himself the nickname “Big Fig” hoping that he’d one up his dad.
Aaron Newton said he had gone by “Fig” during his own time working as a Navy builder and had called his son “Little Fig.” But by the end of high school in Gulfport, Mississippi, Josh had grown bigger than his father.
The nickname, a take on their last name and the famous cookie, didn’t stick but the father and son relationship remained strong, with Josh Newton following his dad’s footsteps into the Seabees.
He had been assigned to Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 133 since May 2017, according to a Navy biography.
Another sailor from the battalion, who the Navy did not identify, was injured in the mishap. The sailor was treated and released at a local medical facility, Lewis told Navy Times.
A command message posted to the battalion’s Facebook page called Josh Newton a “GREAT sailor with a very bright future.”
“We will mourn his loss, remember him, and continue to serve in his honor,” the post said.
NMCB133 will hold memorial services Thursday at 10:30 a.m. in the Naval Construction Battalion Center Gulfport Chapel.
Aaron Newton said his son and the other sailor had been riding their motorcycles after stopping at a Waffle House. The other sailor hit some gravel and wrecked. When Josh turned around to help, he crashed, too. Alcohol was not a factor, he said.
“He was just trying to help his friend,” Aaron Newton said.
Aaron Newton said he was amazed by the outpouring of well-wishers who turned out for Josh’s Dec. 13 funeral in Gulfport, including about 200 bikers.
He wasn’t enthusiastic when Josh bought his Harley Davidson; Aaron Newton said he gave up riding his own motorcycle about a decade ago after he and Josh had gone out riding one Sunday in November and he had to lay the bike down.
Josh received only a scratch to his finger but Aaron said he was mad at himself after realizing how tragic things might have turned out.
Josh was a careful rider and had taken safety courses, his dad said.
The fatal collision occurred just outside Naval Air Station Whidbey Island.
Josh split his childhood growing up between Gulfport and Lancaster, Kentucky, Aaron Newton said. He looked forward to joining his father in Lancaster after his enlistment was up. Josh had a passion for mechanics, including tinkering with the 1973 Chevrolet Nova that Aaron Newton passed down to him,plus a 1989 GMC S15 truck that had belonged to his grandfather.
Aaron Newton said what he will miss most is golfing with Josh. They enjoyed fishing, but that requires quiet. On the golf course, the two could laugh all they wanted.
Neither were great golfers but their lack of skill made the experience better, he said.
“When we’d get done with 18 (holes) he’d say, let’s do nine more,” Aaron Newton remembered.