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Norfolk-based sailor dies while deployed to Red Sea, officials say

Sailors at Naval Station Norfolk in Norfolk, Virginia on Feb. 3, 2023. (Billy Schuerman/The Virginian-Pilot/TNS)

A Norfolk-based sailor serving aboard a destroyer died after he was “lost overboard” while deployed to the Red Sea, officials announced Saturday.

Oriola Michael Aregbesola, 34, an aviation machinist’s mate aboard the USS Mason, went overboard Wednesday. The Department of Defense identified the death as a casualty of a non-combat related incident. It is under investigation.

The Navy statement did not specify if the sailor jumped or fell. When asked if the death is a suspected suicide, a spokesperson for U.S. Central Command referred only to the Navy’s statement.

Aregbesola was assigned to the “Swamp Foxes” of Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron 74, which is deployed with the USS Mason. The USS Mason is part of the Dwight D. Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group. The group deployed from Naval Station Norfolk in mid-October and are postured in and around the Red Sea to deter aggression from Iranian proxy forces.

Aregbesola, a Florida native, joined the Navy in July 2020. He reported to the helicopter squadron in December 2020.

“Petty Officer Aregbesola fully embodied the selfless character and thoughtful warrior spirit of the United States Navy Sailor,” said Cmdr. Eric Kohut, commanding officer of the squadron. “His outstanding performance prior to and during deployment went well beyond aircraft maintenance; he truly saw and valued every member of the ship/air team.

“He will continue on in the heart of every Swamp Fox and our brothers and sisters in the IKE Carrier Strike Group. Our deepest thoughts and prayers are with his family.”


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