Naples sailor remembered as caring, fun-loving
NAPLES, Italy — Whether as a warm friend, a loyal sailor or a mischievous cousin whose calling card was a shaken can of soda, Naem Igrayeb left a deep impression on those who knew him best.
They gathered Friday at a chapel near the Navy base here to honor the second class petty officer, who died last week in a motorcycle accident with another vehicle.
Igrayeb, 26, of Brooklyn, N.Y., was an information systems technician with the Navy Computer and Telecommunications Station in Naples, which provides much of the IT function for base tenants. He was also a husband and a father of two children, speakers noted, as well as the guy who liked to introduce himself as a “Puerto Rican Arab.”
“I said, ‘What?’ ” remembered Pablo Baez, a close friend and first class petty officer. “He said, ‘Yeah, my last name is Arabic, but I eat platanos and beans.”
Igrayeb was outgoing, friendly and concerned about others, speakers said. He once drove to Rome — a two-hour trip — to pick up a sailor who was drunk and unable to get home. He sent roses to a fellow sailor and her husband after the birth of their daughter. He sought people out.
“There wasn’t a day at work that he didn’t come in and shake every single person’s hand,” recalled Petty Officer 3rd Class Katie Weibel.
His cousin, Marine Cpl. Andrea Arenas Vazquez, was flown from her duty station in Africa to be at Friday’s memorial. Still dressed in her daily uniform, she spoke warmly of the cousin she knew in Brooklyn, the guy who loved motorcycles, deep conversation and a joke.
When, shortly after hearing of Igrayeb’s death, Arenas Vazquez opened a can of soda only to have its contents explode in her face, she said she knew her cousin was watching over her. Shaking the can was a joke they often played on each other.
Arenas Vazquez said she wasn’t surprised to hear how close people had become to her cousin.
“He made family,” she said.