Carrier Roosevelt Sailor Who Died of COVID-19 Was 41-Year-Old Chief

Aviation Ordnanceman Chief Petty Officer Charles Thacker.
Aviation Ordnanceman Chief Petty Officer Charles Robert Thacker Jr., 41, of Fort Smith, Arkansas. (U.S. Navy)

The Navy has identified the crew member of a coronavirus-stricken aircraft carrier who died in the intensive care unit this week as Aviation Ordnanceman Chief Petty Officer Charles Robert Thacker Jr.

Thacker, 41, from Fort Smith, Arkansas, was assigned to the aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt. He died on Monday of COVID-19, the dangerous illness brought on by the coronavirus.

He is survived by his spouse, a San Diego-based active-duty service member, who was by Thacker's side at the time of his death, according to a Navy news release. His spouse was flown to Guam through the Navy Air Logistics Office, arriving in Guam on April 11.

Thacker died two days later.

His family did not issue a statement, preferring to mourn their loss privately, Lt. Brittany Stephens, a Navy spokeswoman said. Capt. Carlos Sardiello, the Roosevelt's commanding officer, said the crew's thoughts and prayers are with Thacker's family.

"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," Sardiello said in a statement.

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Thacker had tested positive for COVID-19 on March 30. He was moved off the Roosevelt and placed into isolation with four other crew members who were also infected with the virus.

He was found unresponsive on April 9 during one of the medical checks isolated crew members receive daily. He was transferred to Naval Base Guam by ambulance where he was admitted to the intensive care unit, according to the Navy statement.

There are now 655 COVID-19 cases among the Roosevelt's crew. The health crisis ultimately led to the relief of the ship's commanding officer followed by the resignation of the former acting Navy secretary.

Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Michael Gilday said Thacker's death was a "great loss for the ship and for our Navy." He pledged the ship has the Navy's full support as the crew continues its fight against the coronavirus.

Thacker was the second U.S. service member to die as a result of the coronavirus crisis, which has caused a global pandemic. New Jersey Army National Guard Capt. Douglas Linn Hickok, a physician assistant who served in the U.S. Army Medical Command, died of the illness on March 28.

More than 2,800 U.S. troops have contracted the virus.

The Roosevelt has been in Guam since late March. More than 4,000 members of its crew have been moved off the ship as the carrier is cleaned to help stop the spread of the virus.

Those who've tested positive for COVID-19 remain in isolation, according to Navy officials, and are receiving care from medical personnel assigned to the carrier, Naval Hospital Guam, and members of the 3rd Medical Battalion.

Crew members also have access to a resiliency counselor, a chaplain team and medical psychologists.

-- Gina Harkins can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @ginaaharkins.

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