San Diego-area sailor who died in Fitzgerald collision buried with honors
By CARL PRINE | The San Diego Union-Tribune (Tribune News Service) | Published: July 9, 2017
BONITA, Calif. (Tribune News Service) — One of seven sailors drowned after the June 17 collision of the U.S. Navy destroyer Fitzgerald and a commercial cargo ship, Carlos Victor Sibayan’s 23 years of life were a precious gift to both his parents and “the entire country.”
Those were the words uttered during Fire Controlman 2nd Class Sibayan’s Saturday morning funeral by the Rev. Efrain Bautista, pastor of Bonita’s Corpus Christi Catholic Church, as he sketched the sailor’s journey from childhood, to the crew of the Fitzgerald and then into the company of saints.
“We thank God for the wonderful young man Carlos was in this life, who even from a very young age was always willing to serve and dedicate himself to others,” said Bautista.
Flanked by the Most Rev. John Dolan, the auxiliary bishop of San Diego who performed the funeral Mass, Bautista stared past bouquets of red, white and blue flowers into a sea of sailors who crowded into the chapel to see off Sibayan.
They included Naval Surface Forces commander Vice Adm. Tom Rowden, like his fellow sailors dressed in white. Next to them in the pews were the friends and family of Sibayan, dressed in the black clothes of mourning.
Many of them were drawn from San Diego County’s Filipino population, and they followed in their automobiles to Bonita’s Glen Abbey Memorial Park, where Sibayan was buried with full military honors.
Born to mother Carmen and career sailor Victor in Manila on Dec. 8, 1993, Sibayan was remembered by Bautista as a “second dad” who helped raise his younger brothers Vince and Luke when their father was at sea on deployment.
Their father, a master chief who retired to Chula Vista, said in a moving eulogy that penning a speech about his intelligent and caring son Carlos was painful.
“I can’t complete one sentence without crying,” he said through tears. “Every time I write a word, it’s like my heart is in the grinder.”
He recalled a moment in 2013 when Carlos asked him how long it took him to rise to the rank of chief: “I told him, 9 1/2 years. And he told me, with a promise, that he would make chief in eight years. The way he thought and planned for the future, he seemed he would become a master chief or an officer someday.”
The elder Sibayan remembered mentoring his son, a graduate of Temecula’s Chaparral High School, to forever “love your Navy” and “believe in your command” while “always standing a proper watch, that he has to make sure that everyone and everything is safe and secure.”
“And after he died, one night Carlos appeared in my dreams,” he continued. “He stared at me and said, ‘Dad, I stood my watch for three years, making sure everyone was safe when they were asleep. What happened to me?’ I said to him, ‘I don’t know, son.’”
Several ongoing multinational investigations are attempting to answer that very question, especially the events that led the much larger ACX Crystal, a Philippine-flagged container ship, to spear the Fitzgerald below the destroyer’s waterline, flooding it with seawater.
Its crew struggling to keep the “Fighting Fitz” afloat, the destroyer limped across 64 miles of the Philippine Sea to reach Japan, where it awaits major repairs.
Cmdr. Clayton Doss, spokesman for the Japan-based 7th Fleet, told The San Diego Union-Tribune that the Navy has neither relieved any officers or senior noncommissioned officers from the Fitzgerald nor “developed the long-term repair plan” that would estimate the cost or schedule for repairing the destroyer.
Workers finished offloading the warship’s ammunition on June 25 and continued draining the vessel of water and fuel and temporarily patching the hull, he said, and the crew “is resuming their normal routine incrementally” and will remain assigned to the Fitzgerald when the ship enters dry dock later this month.
“The entire waterfront continues to support Fitzgerald sailors and their families and I would stress that resuming their routine at a measured pace is an important part of the healing process,” Doss said.
Sibayan’s burial followed a day after the graveside services at Miramar National Cemetery for shipmate Yeoman 3rd Class Shingo Alexander Douglass, the son of a retired Marine master sergeant and a Japanese mother.
Formerly of Oceanside, Douglass, 25, was fluent in Japanese.
©2017 The San Diego Union-Tribune
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