Sailor from Cherry Hill died in USS John S. McCain crash, Navy says

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The U.S. Navy said Thursday that a sailor from Cherry Hill was killed in the collision between the destroyer the USS John S. McCann and an oil tanker near Singapore. The names of nine others missing in the accident were also released. They are presumed to have died.

Petty Officer Kenneth Aaron Smith, 22, was confirmed dead by the Navy. The electronics technician graduated from Cherry Hill East in 2013, and followed in the footsteps of his father, Darryl, and grandfather, in joining the Navy.

Condolences began pouring in on the Facebook page of Smith’s mother, who lives in Michigan.

“So very sorry for your great loss,” one wrote. “May Kenneth rest easy and at peace. He will always be an American hero.”

Efforts to locate any survivors in Monday’s disaster in Southeast Asia were suspended, and all the sailors missing were presumed to have died. Five other sailors were injured.

In a statement earlier this week that NBC10 said Smith’s father, Darryl Smith, issued through the Navy,  he thanked those who had offered support to the family and expressed appreciation for “the courageous work of the crew in the aftermath of the collision and the ongoing rescue efforts.”

Kenneth Smith grew up in Novi, Mich., and moved to Norfolk, Va., as a teenager to live with his father. His mother, April Brandon, who lives in a Detroit suburb, said her son wanted to develop video games.

The nine missing sailors are also petty officers, the Navy said.

The collision between the McCain and the 30,000-ton oil tanker ripped a gaping hole in the destroyer’s  hull. The McCain had been heading to Singapore on a routine port visit.

Seven sailors died in June when the USS Fitzgerald and a container ship collided in waters off Japan.

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