(CBSDFW.COM) – Separated by thousands of miles of ocean, Aly Hernandez-Singer says pictures of her cousin, Noe, always kept them together.
Gunner’s Mate 2nd Class Noe Hernandez of Weslaco, Texas died on the USS Fitzgerald over the weekend after it collided with a container ship off the coast of Japan.
“We lived through his experiences. His travels. We were just proud that our boy was up there,” said Aly Hernandez-Singer.
Noe and six other shipmates were previously reported missing after the crash severely damaged the USS Fitzgerald. Nightmares became real after the U.S. Navy confirmed the seven deaths.
Aly tells CBS 11 her cousin Noe died in the collision from a head injury as he slept. “When they confirmed it, it was like a kick to the chest.”
She also says Noe met his wife in high school. “That’s how he met Dora too. She was in ROTC,” said Aly. “That was his first love… his only love.”
Noe is also survived by his son, Leon, who Aly says is about to be three years old.
The family’s next step is to come together to honor Noe’s life and the legacy that lives on.
“We all came from poverty in Guatemala,” said Aly. “He was the one who made it. And we were so proud of him.”