EVERETT, Wash. (NNS) -- Navy personnel in the Northwest gathered for a memorial service for fallen Sailors and family members of the Oso, Washington mudslide at Naval Station Everett, April 25.
During the morning of March 22 a small town less than 60 miles north of Seattle, with a population just over 175 people, was devastated by a natural disaster that took the lives of more than 40 citizens.
The landslide that ravaged dozens of homes in Oso, left an easily seen trail of debris cascading in its wake. The arduous process of searching out survivors amongst the chaos continued weeks after the disaster.
Amidst the destruction there were flickers of hope, found in the form of a few survivors.
One was a four-year-old child, Jacob Spillers. Jacob is the son of Chief Navy Counselor Billy Spillers, a native of New Albany, Pennsylvania assigned to Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and Intermediate Maintenance Facility, Detachment Everett.
Spillers was lost in the mudslide with his daughters, five-year-old Kaylee and two-year-old Brooke along with his stepson Jovon Mangual, 13. Spillers left behind his wife Jonielle, who was out at the time of the landslide.
Spillers would not be the only Sailor taken on this day. Cmdr. John Regelbrugge III, officer in charge of PSNS & IMF Detachment Everett, and his wife Kris were also among the lives lost.
Naval Station Everett (NSE) hosted a memorial service for these fallen Sailors and their families in Jackson Plaza on NSE, April 25.
Navy Band Northwest opened the ceremony with "Going Home" arrangement from Dvorak Symphony #9. Master of Ceremonies, Cmdr. Douglas Kunzman, took the podium and announced the arrival of the two victims' families.
Colors were paraded, followed by the National Anthem and the invocation by Lt. Cmdr. Jennifer Bowden, a Navy chaplain.
"In the depth of the silence and pain, these families have felt the love," said Bowden.
Capt. Steve Williamson, Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and Intermediate Maintenance Facility commander, continued with opening remarks.
"You will always be a part of our family, and the loss of these two incredible shipmates, along with John's wife Kris, and three of Billy and Joinelle's children, Brooke, Kaylee and Jovon has been heartbreaking to our Navy, our command and community," said Williamson. "It is a true honor and privilege that I have the opportunity to remember these great men as they were wonderful husbands, fathers, sons, friends and shipmates."
Friends of Spillers and Regelbrugge took the podium to share memories of their lost friends. Senior Chief Damage Controlman Eric Payne remembered having Spillers work under him, taking on a leadership role that was traditionally above his rank at the time.
"He called me his mentor once, but I'm not sure who taught who more," said Payne. An emotional final remark followed as Payne said, "you will be truly missed."
Vice Adm. William Hilarides, Naval Sea Systems Command commander, finished up with closing remarks by saying that the families of Regelbrugge and Spillers are still a part of the Navy family.
"When we suffer loss we come together, talk and tell stories. We are there for each other in the long haul," said Hilarides. "To the families of John and Billy, these two amazing men, and to the men and women of Everett Detachment these families are now your family."
The Chief Petty Officer Creed was read in honor of both men followed by a reading of the history of the shadow box. A shadow box designed to remember each of the lost Sailors was given to the families.
The ceremony concluded with 'The Watch' being read and the piping ashore of Regelbrugge and Spillers. The families departed as Navy Band played "Amazing Grace".
Regelbrugge enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 1982 and served with numerous commands: Military Sealift Command Kilauea-class ammunition ships USNS Santa Barbara (T-AE 28), USNS Flint (T-AE 32), USNS Mount Baker (T-AE 34) and USNS Kiska (T-AE 35), along with the Cimarron-class replenishment oiler USS Willamette (AO 180), the Wichita-class replenishment oiler USS Kansas (AOR 3), the Wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS Boxer (LHD 4), the Austin-class amphibious transport dock USS Ogden (LPD 5), Navy Recruiting Station, Auburn, Calif., Naval Air Station North Island, Afloat Training Group Pacific Northwest, Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and Intermediate Maintenance Facility, and the Nimitz-class aircraft carriers USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) and USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74). While assigned to USS Willamette (AO 180) he was selected as Senior Sailor of the Year.
Spillers enlisted in the United States Navy in 2002 and served with five commands: the guided-missile destroyers USS Stout (DDG 55) and USS Momsen (DDG 92), Personnel Support Detachment Afloat Atlantic, the "Black Knights" of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA 154), and Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and Intermediate Maintenance Facility. While assigned to USS Stout, he was selected as Destroyer Squadron Nine Sailor of the Year for 2009.
For more news from Navy Public Affairs Support Element West, Det. Northwest, visit www.navy.mil/local/nwpacen/.