SPEECH | Oct. 4, 2017

Vice Adm. Sawyer's remarks during the USS John S. McCain Memorial.

Commander, U.S. Seventh Fleet

Vice Adm. Phil Sawyer

Remarks during the USS John S. McCain Memorial.

Good morning families, friends and shipmates of the ten fallen USS John S. McCain Sailors. We gather today to honor them and to honor their service to our Nation.   

Words are inadequate to express the grief WE feel at losing 10 of our own. To the families, I can only imagine your grief and your pain. Take some solace in knowing the deep respect their Navy brothers & sisters have for the service and the sacrifice of the fallen MCCAIN Sailors.

Their deaths are a brutal reminder that what we ask our Military members to do every day…… carries risks not experienced in other professions. A brutal reminder….that by the very nature of our duties….we willingly go into harm’s way.

While the sea provides us the freedom of maneuver that is the very strength of a Navy..…. the sea cannot be conquered…it cannot be controlled….and it does not care whether you travel on or beneath its surface.  Its power is undeniable and unpredictable. The best we can do, as mariners, is to manage it, to respect it -- and when necessary -- to fight it. 

In the moments, minutes & hours that followed the tragic collision….the Crew of the JOHN S MCCAIN fought. The only reason John S. McCain is moored in Singapore today is because its Crew fought back against a flooding sea, preventing further loss of life, if not the ship itself. We owe it to the families of the fallen Sailors to find out why this happened and to make changes so that this doesn’t happen again. 

We owe it to the American public who give us their most prized treasures ….their sons, daughters, husbands and wives. We owe it to the fallen Sailors we honor here today. This work….. is IN progress….. and it will be done. There is no more pressing challenge on my mind as Seventh Fleet commander than this work.

I am confident that the Seventh Fleet Sailors, proudly wearing the cloth of our Nation and our Navy, will continue to vigilantly stand the watch….far from our country’s shores. We don’t know when, if ever, we’ll be called to stand and fight. We train to be ready…. yet hope that day never comes. I am heartened and proud of the actions of the JOHN S MCCAIN Crew after the collision. When called……they were ready.

 May God bless our Nation, our Navy and the USS John S. McCain -- its fallen, its Sailors, its families, its friends and all who gather here today.