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Navy IDs sailor who died from COVID-19 complications

The Navy has identified the sailor assigned to the aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt who died Monday from COVID-19 complications.

Chief Aviation Ordnanceman Charles Robert Thacker Jr., 41, died April 13 at U.S. Naval Hospital Guam, the service announced.

Thacker, a native of Fort Smith, Arkansas, tested positive for COVID-19 on March 30, Navy officials said. He was subsequently removed from the ship and placed in quarantine.

The chief petty officer was moved to the intensive care unit on April 9 after being found unresponsive by other quarantined sailors. He is the first Theodore Roosevelt sailor to succumb to the virus.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the family during this difficult time,” said Capt. Carlos Sardiello, Theodore Roosevelt’s commanding officer.

“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.”

Thacker’s spouse, who is an active-duty service member stationed in San Diego, was flown to Guam on April 11 and was by his side when he passed, Navy officials said.

Chief Petty Officer Thacker enlisted in the Navy in 1997, Navy officials said. In addition to multiple assignments on the carrier Theodore Roosevelt, Thacker’s is time in uniform included tours with the now-decommissioned Kitty Hawk-class supercarrier USS Constellation (CV-64), and the Nimitz-class carriers George Washington and Ronald Reagan.

Among Thacker’s awards are two Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medals and three Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals.

The Navy announced Thursday that six additional sailors assigned to Theodore Roosevelt have been hospitalized. One required a move to the ICU “for increased observation due to shortness of breath,” Navy officials said.

On March 24 the Roosevelt first reported that three of its sailors had tested positive for COVID-19. The infected crew members were airlifted off of the ship as a precaution, but within one week confirmed cases in the ship’s tight quarters spiked to nearly 100.

As of Thursday, 655 Theodore Roosevelt sailors had contracted COVID-19, Navy officials said. Nearly 85 percent of the ship’s crew have been evacuated and moved ashore.

Speaking to reporters last week, Air Force Gen. John Hyten, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, noted that “it’s not a good idea to think that the Teddy Roosevelt is a one-of-a-kind issue. To think that it will never happen again is not a good way to plan.”

Along with the Roosevelt, at least one sailor each from the aircraft carriers Ronald Reagan, Nimitz, and Carl Vinson have tested positive for the coronavirus.

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