A candlelight vigil will be held for the US sailor from Etowah who fell overboard from the destroyer USS Arleigh Burke in the Baltic Sea August 1.
The vigil will take place on August 19th at 8pm at Karolina Kremes in Etowah. Nineteen-year-old seaman recruit David “Dee” Spearman was pronounced dead by the Navy on August 4. An investigation into how Spearman went overboard has not yet been completed and his body has not been recovered, according to earlier reports from Times-News.
“The family is new here. They’ve only been here since the fall,” said Dana Galloway, organizer of the vigil. “You don’t know our community. They don’t know that people come together and this is the time for people to come together. There is no agenda. It’s just love, support and prayer.”
Previous coverage: Navy confirms a seaman from Etowah has died after falling overboard in the Baltic Sea
Karolina Kremes, based at 96 Etowah Center Dr., is owned by Spearman’s parents, Galloway said. They took some time off after learning about Spearman but plan to get back to work in the coming days. Spearman’s family declined to comment directly at the time, but Spearman’s mother, Nikki McKeithan Spearman, issued a statement through Galloway.
“We are still waiting for the investigative report and we still hope and pray that it will be found. Please pray that a fisherman or boater will find him and bring him home,” she said.
Galloway said the family’s faith is helping them get through the tragedy.
“They love Jesus and that’s what they’re holding on to now, their faith,” she said. “They are just absolutely amazing people. They have huge hearts.”
The vigil will be attended by many “sea sisters,” or mothers, of Navy sailors from around Henderson County, Galloway said. She has also invited the Patriot Guard Riders, but at the time of writing she has not heard from them.
Galloway also has a son in the Navy, and she said her biggest fear is him going overboard like Spearman. Since the Spearmans were new in town, she said she didn’t know them, although she knew most other people in Henderson County whose children had recently enlisted, so she set out to find them. Now she speaks to Nikki Spearman daily.
“A friend of mine posted that it was a friend of theirs and I immediately thought, ‘I have to get in touch. I have to help. I have to do something for this woman,'” she said. “I can’t imagine being in their shoes. I don’t even want to imagine that.”
After Spearman’s mother posted about her son on Facebook for two weeks, Galloway asked if she could organize the vigil, and she agreed.
“I said I feel like this is my way of giving back,” Galloway said. “My child gives for our country and so did your child. So I would hope that if the shoes were reversed, you would be there for me too.”
Anyone attending the vigil is asked to wear red to “remember all responders until they all get home.”