STOCKTON (CBS13) — A Navy sailor from Stockton presumed dead following a military training accident is being remembered as an inspiration to others.
Chris ‘Bobby’ Gnem’s step-father Peter Vienna says his son was a perfect child.
“I will remember his kind heart and ear-to-ear smile,” Vienna said.
His parents say their son was on an amphibious vehicle with a team he was set to deploy with when a training mission turned deadly. Gnem was a hospital corpsman who joined the Navy after graduating from Lincoln High school in 2016.
His basketball coach Gary Greeno says although Gnem averaged only a point per game, his teammates voted him captain and most inspirational player.
Swipe through pictures of Chris “Bobby” Gnem below:
“That shows how much respect his teammates had for him,” Greeno said. “These are the kind of kids that just make a huge difference in the world.”
His presumed death has left Greeno in shock.
“It’s just gut-wrenching,” Greeno said. “I mean, it’s just heartbreaking.”
The Department of Defense reports an amphibious vehicle began taking on water during a training exercise Thursday off the coast of Southern California. Five on board were rescued. One was found dead. Gnem is one of eight presumed dead after the military says the 26-ton vehicle likely sunk to the bottom of the ocean.
A 40-hour search turned up nothing. Now, this Stockton native and Navy sailor’s life is suddenly cut short.
“He had so much to offer, and he was making such a difference and he was one of those kids that five years from now, 10 years from now, I mean, you’re gonna know who Bobby was,” Greeno said.
This life, full of promise. Gone in a tragic loss.
Gnem’s parents say their son was recently engaged. His fiancée is also in the military.
Arrangements for a memorial service have not yet been arranged.