Naples memorial service honors sailor killed in collision
By CRISTINA SILVA | STARS AND STRIPES Published: January 30, 2013
NAPLES, Italy — After weeks of rain, Petty Officer 3rd Class Dawn Holt was convinced the sun was finally ready to come out. She sent a message to a co-worker and friend: “Blue skies are on the way.”
Minutes later, Holt was killed in a head-on vehicle collision on a rain-flooded roadway as she traveled to work at the Navy’s Capodichino base in Naples. Italian officials pronounced her dead at the scene.
Holt, 36, had been in Italy for roughly six months at the time of her death, but had already impressed her supervisors in Naples and won many friends, said Navy officials at a memorial service at the base Wednesday.
Petty officer 2nd Class Erolinda Skewes recalled Holt’s final message about sunnier weather during the service. Skewes said Holt brought energy and humor to her job by often using her favorite word — “awesome” — and suggesting that her co-workers turn a weekly training session into a Jeopardy-style game.
Through tears, Marine Cpl. Theresa Wille described Holt as the most optimistic person she had ever met and the “light in a dark room.”
“She’ll never let you have a bad day,” Wille said.
More than 180 sailors and friends attended the service at the Capodichino chapel. A photo slideshow depicted Holt celebrating with friends and family across the world. In one image, she posed in front of the Gulf of Naples and Mount Vesuvius. After the service, her co-workers and friends gathered in a teary embrace.
Holt was heading to the Capodichino base to work her regular night shift as a logistics specialist at the Naples Fleet mail center when the collision occurred on Jan. 24. One of the four people in the second vehicle suffered minor injuries, according to the Navy.
Holt had a twin sister and was one of five daughters raised outside Atlanta. She graduated in 1999 from Lee University in Cleveland, Tenn., according to Navy officials.
Holt was close to her family and often emailed her sisters and mother while on sea duty, said Capt. Robert Gantt, commander of Naval Supply Systems Command Fleet Logistics Center Sigonella. She called her siblings the “fabulous Holt girls,” he said.
“She knew how to read people and make them smile,” Gantt said.
Holt is survived by her mother, Brenda Jarrett; her stepfather, Howard Jarrett; and four sisters, Gretchen Sims, Deborah Holt Rychlicki, Abigail Holt Jennings and Rhonda Black.
Marine Cpl. Theresa Wille, center, shares a tearful embrace with Naples Fleet Mail center co-workers at a memorial service Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2013, for Petty Officer 3rd Class Dawn Holt. Holt, 36, was killed in a vehicle collision Jan. 24.
Cristina Silva/Stars and Stripes
CRISTINA SILVA/STARS AND STRIPES