Halethorpe sailor who died in USS Fitzgerald collision buried at Arlington cemetery

Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Xavier Martin, the 24-year-old sailor from Halethorpe who died aboard the USS Fitzgerald in June, was buried Wednesday at Arlington National Cemetery.

Daneace Jeffery, Martin’s aunt, said 100 friends and family traveled from across the country to attend the ceremony. Five sailors from Japan who were friends of Martin flew in for the funeral, she said.

“It was very special,” Jeffery said. “There was not a dry eye. Along with the flags being at half staff today, the honor was overwhelming.”

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan ordered that flags in state be lowered to half staff Wednesday to honor Martin.

Martin died June 17 when the USS Fitzgerald, an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, collided with a container ship off the coast of Japan. He was one of seven U.S. sailors to die in the collision.

Jeffery said the widow of 37-year-old Gary Rehm, a sailor from Northeast Ohio who was also killed in the collision, was in attendance at Martin’s burial. Jeffery said she will represent the Martin family when Rehm is buried at Arlington next week.

Martin enlisted in the Navy to follow in the footsteps of his father, Darrold Martin, who served four years in the service.

Xavier Martin moved quickly up the ranks: He was the youngest petty officer with a rank of first class aboard the USS Fitzgerald.

His funeral took place July 7 at the Vaughn Greene Funeral Home in Randallstown. Family and friends remembered him for his professionalism, selflessness and infectious smile.

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