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A U.S. Navy petty officer killed last month in a Bahrain motorcycle accident was just days away from finishing his tour in the Persian Gulf, officials said Thursday.

Petty Officer 1st Class Howard E. Babcock IV, 33, of Houston, died Oct. 13 of injuries sustained in a motorcycle accident, officials said. Babcock was assigned to the Naval Computer and Telecommunications Station in Bahrain.

The U.S. Navy command in Bahrain did not return a message asking why the notification came so long after the death.

Bahrain is home to U.S. Naval Forces Central Command and the 5th Fleet. In addition to sailors and Marines on ships in the region, about 3,000 support personnel are permanently stationed at the base, according to the Navy.

In addition to their anti-terror and combat missions, Navy personnel in the area have been supporting earthquake relief operations in Pakistan.

Babcock’s mother, Rita Vega Dillon, told a newspaper in his hometown that Babcock was scheduled to return to Houston on Oct. 24, just before being reassigned to England.

“He was supposed to arrive in Houston on the same day he arrived in a coffin,” Dillon said, according to the Houston Chronicle.

“He used to wake up in the Navy and he said, ‘Mom, I would say good morning and they would say, Babcock, what’s so good about today?’ He would tell them you’re alive, you are breathing, you have a pulse and God has given you another day in this life,” Dillon told the Chronicle.

Dillon said her son’s death was shocking for two reasons: because he was not in a combat zone, she thought he was in little danger. Second, her youngest son, Worden, was killed in a car accident earlier this year.

“I thought he was safe, I really did. I thought that was last thing that would happen to me, that they would come and tell me that my son died,” Dillon said.

Babcock is survived by his mother, a sister, and his wife, officials said.


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