ROANOKE-Two Navy SEALs who went missing at sea on Jan. 11 while on an interdiction mission are considered dead and have now been identified. The U.S. Military says the SEALs are Navy Special Warfare Operator 1st Class Christopher J. Chambers and Navy Special Warfare Operator 2nd Class Nathan “Gage” Ingram.
Ingram was not only a hero to his country but also a son, classmate, and friend to people who knew him in Roanoke, Texas – the town he grew up in.
“He was a model citizen and absolute model student — everything about him was just absolutely the best of the best, and that’s why he ended up as a Navy SEAL,” said Roanoke Mayor Scooter Gierisch Jr.
Gierisch said many people in the town knew Ingram, including his son, who played recreational sports with Ingram.
“He played rec league basketball with my son, so it is close to home,” the mayor said. “Because (of) my son’s age just makes it hard to realize the dad has lost his son.”
The SEALs were reported missing during a mission near the coast of Somalia to board a ship carrying Iranian weapons, U.S. Central Command said in a statement.
“They were exceptional warriors, cherished teammates, and dear friends to many within the Naval Special Warfare community,” Capt. Blake L. Chaney, Commander of Naval Special Warfare Group 1, said.
Defense officials earlier told CBS News the missing sailors went overboard attempting to board the Iranian vessel.
The SEALs were climbing up a vessel when one got knocked off by high waves in the Arabian Sea, the Associated Press reported.
Under their protocol, when one SEAL is overtaken, the next jumps in after them.
“We mourn the loss of our two Naval Special Warfare warriors, and we will forever honor their sacrifice and example,” CENTCOM’s Gen. Michale Erik Kurilla said. “Our prayers are with the SEALs’ families, friends, the U.S. Navy, and the entire Special Operations community during this time.”
Officials said Chambers and Ingram enlisted in the Navy in 2012 and 2019, respectively.
The two served with West Coast-based SEAL units. Chambers’ awards and decorations include the Navy/Marine Corps Achievement Medal with Combat “C,” three Navy/Marine Corps Achievement Medals, Army Achievement Medal, Combat Action Ribbon, and other personal and unit awards. Ingram’s awards and decorations include various individual and unit awards.
Northwest ISD confirms to CBS News Texas that Ingram graduated from Byron Neilson High School.
All flags in Texas are at half-staff following an order from Governor Greg Abbot to honor Ingram. The governor said in a statement on X Monday:
“I ordered flags across Texas to fly at half-staff to honor U.S. Navy Special Operator Second Class Gage Ingram, a Navy SEAL and native Texan who died serving his country. Cecilia & I join his family and all who grieve this hero’s loss. Texas will never forget his sacrifice.”
Gierisch says Ingram’s family is asking for privacy during this difficult time, but the city is working on multiple ways to honor Ingram and his family.
“You always see on the news that soldiers are lost at sea, or your soldiers injured in battle — and you never really think it’s going be close to home,” Gierisch added. “Unfortunately, our military sacrifices so much, and we don’t realize that many times.”