Two Women Bond Over Their Sailors In Aftermath of Fitzgerald Tragedy
By Debbie Gregory.
A sisterhood has been forged from the tragedy of the USS Fitzgerald collision with cargo ship ACX Crystal .
Erin Rehm, who lost her husband of 17 years, and Jacqueline Langlais, a sailor on the Fitzgerald who lost her fiancé, Seaman Dakota Rigsby, have bonded through their loss.
Langlais was also extremely close with Erin’s husband, Fire Controlman 1st Class Gary Leo Rehm Jr., who introduced her to the man that became her fiancé.
Gunner’s Mate Rigsby and Rehm were among the seven sailors killed in the collision.
Erin Rehm and Langlais had met last year.
“Me being Gary’s best friend, Gary always talked to me about Erin,” said Langlais. “Gary’s passing gave us something in common. We’re trying to help each other get over that aspect.”
Rehm Jr. has been hailed as a hero, reportedly pulling some 20 sailors to safety before he perished..
Although she already knew that her husband was heroic, Erin Rehm has learned about other acts of kindness and going above and beyond in the days and weeks the followed the tragedy.
“He downplayed what he did for people, that it was no big deal,” she said. “He’d say, ‘Hey, I’m going to do this real quick.’ Then I hear these stories of how he impacted people.”
Last November, when Rigsby reported to the USS Fitzgerald, he became friends with Gary Rehm, and it was Rehm who introduced Rigsby to Langlais, an information systems technician 2nd class.
“Gary was my best friend,” Langlais said, “so he brought Dakota over to my house one night and said, ‘I want to introduce you to one of my guys — my kids.'”
Although Langlais wasn’t looking to get romantically involved, these things have a way working out how they will. The two ended up falling in love, and. Rigsby popped the question.
While Langlais plans to stay in the Navy, she’s not sure if she’ll return to the Fitzgerald.
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