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Navy identifies Fort Smith sailor who died of COVID-19

Chief Petty Officer Charles Robert Thacker Jr., 41, of Fort Smith, died from the coronavirus Monday (April 13) at the U.S. Naval Hospital in Guam.

FORT SMITH, Ark — Chief Petty Officer Charles Robert Thacker Jr., 41, of Fort Smith, died from the coronavirus Monday (April 13) at the U.S. Naval Hospital in Guam. 

Thacker was assigned to USS Theodore Roosevelt.

Thacker tested positive for the virus on March 30 and was removed from the ship and placed in isolation on Naval Base Guam. 

On April 9, Thacker was found unresponsive during a daily medical check and transferred to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU).  

"Our thoughts and prayers are with the family during this difficult time," said Capt. Carlos Sardiello, Theodore Roosevelt's commanding officer. "Our number one priority continues to be the health and well-being of all members of the Theodore Roosevelt Strike Group and we remain steadfast in our resolve against the spread of this virus." 

Thacker's wife, who is an active duty member stationed in San Diego, was flown to Guam, arriving on April 11. At the time of his passing, she was by his side. 

U.S. Senators John Boozman and Tom Cotton, along with Congressman Steve Womack released the following statements about Thacker's death:

"Chief Petty Officer Charles Thacker, Jr. honorably served our country in uniform. His dedication to our nation was perhaps only surpassed by the tremendous love he had for his dear family. Petty Officer Thacker's appreciation for the special things in life – particularly his loved ones and passions – reminds us how precious time really is and how this virus poses a threat to all of us, even the warriors dedicated to defending America. My thoughts and prayers are with the Thacker family and all who counted Petty Officer Thacker as a friend or loved one. We honor his life and service in uniform, and pledge to keep this proud son of Arkansas's legacy alive in the years to come," Boozman said. 

"I'm saddened to hear of the passing of Chief Petty Officer Charles Thacker, Jr. His service to the country has earned my utmost gratitude, and my deepest condolences go to his family, friends, and crewmates," Cotton said. 

Womack said, "Today, Fort Smith and the State of Arkansas mourn the passing of a brave patriot and sailor. Chief Petty Officer Charles Robert Thacker, Jr. defended our nation and upheld his duty to serve and protect freedom. This is a great loss against an unprecedented enemy, and we must continue to amplify resources on all levels to defeat this virus and safeguard personnel. My deepest condolences go out to the Thacker family, his loved ones, and fellow service members. Though no words can heal the pain, our community sends prayers of comfort and strength during this time."

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