NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (NNS) -- When a tragic fire struck the Virginia Beach, Va., home of a USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) Sailor March 3, his shipmates on board TR quickly stepped up and helped him, by donating money and supplies to replace what he had lost.
Aviation Boatswain's Mate (Equipment) 1st Class (AW/SW) Germain T. Stabler thought he had lost everything. The fire started while Stabler, the leading petty officer of TR's production team, was out washing his car.
"While we were gone, my security system called and alerted me that there was a power outage or power shortage," said Stabler. "I came home and that's when I noticed the fire."
According to Stabler, it was hard to register what was happening when he first saw the flames.
"I thought, 'Is this really happening to me?'" said Stabler. "I always thought I was careful, and that things like this would never happen to me, but I guess they can happen to anyone."
Stabler later discovered the fire had been caused by leaving his downstairs television turned on, which led to the wires heating up and causing a spark. Because of that one moment, Stabler had to start all over again.
"Anything that wasn't burnt was damaged from smoke and soot," said Stabler.
When Stabler's shipmates on board TR found out about the fire, the response was almost immediate. In a matter of days, Stabler was receiving donations and other forms of aid to help him rebuild his life.
"The TR has always been a family; even people I don't know have really come forward to help," said Stabler. "This shows you how close a Navy family gets, and it's closer than anything."
Stabler said that out of all the commands he has been stationed, TR has been the tightest-knit.
"To see the amount of people go out of their way to make sure a shipmate is taken care of makes me feel like I am in the right place doing the right thing," said Senior Chief Aviation Electronics Technician (AW/SW) James W. Beckwith, Stabler's leading chief petty officer. "People have recognized that something happened to a shipmate, and they stepped up to the plate."
Stabler said the amount of donations he received shocked him, and with the command's help he has replaced almost everything he lost.
"There was so much support; so far my house is almost refurnished, and people have even given me new clothes," said Stabler. "To this day people still ask me if I need anything."
To many on board, TR is more than just a ship; it is a large family. When one member of the family is in trouble, the other members step up and help.
"TR has showed what the true meaning of shipmate is," said Sonar Technician Surface 1st Class James M. Blaine. "It is when a tragedy happens everyone comes together to take care of that person."
For more information, visit www.navy.mil, www.facebook.com/usnavy, or www.twitter.com/usnavy.
For more news from USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71), visit www.navy.mil/local/cvn71/.