Michigan mother of missing sailor aboard USS John McCain remains hopeful

April Brandon is holding out hope that her son, Petty Officer 3rd Class Kenneth Smith, will be found safe aboard the USS John S. McCain, a U.S. Navy destroyer that collided with an oil tanker near Singapore early Monday, the second such collision this summer.

Brandon said that at about 5 a.m. Monday, two Navy officials visited her home to inform her that her son was among 10 missing sailors.

"They explained the collision and said he was among the missing," Brandon told the Free Press this morning. "That's literally all the details they had."

Brandon has been waiting for word ever since.

"He's tough. I have hope," she said.

Smith is a third-generation sailor, following his father and grandfather into the U.S. Navy, Brandon said. He grew up in Novi before moving to Virginia to live with his father and join an ROTC program to prepare for the Navy.

Smith, 22, is in the fourth year of a seven year commitment and has considered making a career out of the Navy as his father did, Brandon said.

He works in radar technology and his current rank is a E-4. Brandon said Smith joined the Navy in part because of the education it offered. His dream job is a video game developer and he publishes science fiction writings online, Brandon said.

His ship has been to Japan and Australia. Brandon said Smith plans to visit her in December, his first visit home in more than a year.

"He'll be home for Christmas," she said.

Brandon said that her son loves animals and stands up for human rights.

"He's very patriotic," she said. "It's people like him that America great. He's my hero. His father's hero, too."

Navy and Marine Corps divers on Tuesday located the remains of some of the 10 sailors missing from the USS John S. McCain following its collision with an oil tanker off Malaysia, the Navy said.

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Contact John Wisely: 248-858-2262 or jwisely@freepress.com. On Twitter @jwisely.

© 2017 Detroit Free Press


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