NAPLES, Italy — Things had been going well for master-at-arms Philip Bordeaux in recent weeks — he had just pinned on second class, attended his first watch meeting and was looking forward to his brother’s wedding in the States.
Energetic at work and involved in the community during in his off-duty hours, Bordeaux had always been well-liked by those around him, said Petty Officer 1st Class Alex Dorais, a friend since Norfolk.
“Here in Naples, Philip was a watch commander’s dream,” he said.
Bordeaux died last Saturday after a car accident on a highway near the base support site. Investigators have yet to release details of the crash, which occurred at 5 a.m., but Italian media have reported it was a single-car accident near the base’s exit.
At a Friday memorial service attended by Bordeaux’s parents and brothers, Dorais and others recalled their friend before an audience of several hundred sailors and local personnel.
Petty Officer 1st Class Joseph Mormino called Bordeaux “one in a million,” a guy whose energy attracted those around him.
Another sailor remembered Bordeaux as a buddy who always had his back as the pair traveled across Italy. Petty Officer 2nd Class Nicholas Bacher said he last saw his friend a few weeks ago, when Bordeaux invited him over for fried chicken and biscuits— a favorite meal. It was Bordeaux’s confidence that struck people, Bacher said.
“Phil wasn’t the biggest guy, but he made an impression on everyone he met,” he said.
After joining the Navy in 2009, Bordeaux, of Durham, N.C., was assigned to Norfolk, Va., as a harbor security coxswain. He arrived in Naples in June 2012 and worked his way up from patrol officer to patrol supervisor. At the time of his death, Bordeaux was working on his watch commander qualification, a position normally filled by a first class petty officer.
Bordeaux often volunteered during off-duty hours, working local events around Halloween and Christmas, according to a biography provided by the base. While in Norfolk in 2011, he helped found a fund-raiser in which members of the four armed services stood at attention, at length, in a public place for donations.
On Wednesday, fellow sailors in Naples performed the same fund-raiser, called Stand at Attention, in Bordeaux’s honor. Working shifts in 93-degree heat, more than 20 sailors raised nearly $2,900 for a charity called Active Heroes.
The idea this time belonged to Petty Officer 3rd Class Brittany McGirt, a fellow master-at-arms in Naples who posted about the event on a Facebook page created by Bordeaux’s family as a memorial.
“A person, a man, and a Sailor like your son is few and far between,” she wrote.
Stars and Stripes reporter Sandra Jontz contributed to this report