News Branch Navy

Navy identifies missing sailor from the USS Theodore Roosevelt who was declared dead

He wanted to become a Navy officer.
Jeff Schogol Avatar
Aviation Ordnanceman Airman Apprentice Ethan Garrett Goolsby. (Courtesy of the Goolsby family.)

The Navy has identified a sailor from the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt who was declared dead after going missing on Dec. 10 as Aviation Ordnanceman Airman Apprentice Ethan Garrett Goolsby.

Several Navy and U.S. Coast Guard ships and aircraft spent more than 55 hours looking for Ethan Goolsby after one of the lookouts on the USS Theodore Roosevelt spotted someone in the water on Dec. 10. The search ended on Dec. 12 without finding him.

Ethan Goolsby had served on the Theodore Roosevelt since July, according to the 3rd Fleet. He began boot camp in November 2019 at Recruit Training Command, Great Lakes in Illinois and he was promoted to his current rank this September.

His father Kelly Goolsby posted on Facebook that two investigations are looking into how the sailor went overboard.

“We are grateful for the search and recovery efforts related to us by the U.S. Navy,” the elder Goolsby wrote in a Dec. 13 Facebook post. “We remain hopeful that they will continue to search for our only son’s remains. Ethan was very proud of the U.S. Navy and the service he was providing to our country. The family would like to have his body recovered so that a proper burial can be held in his honor.”

Kelly Goolsby told Task & Purpose that several of his son’s relatives had joined the military, including his cousin, who served on the destroyer USS Fitzgerald.

“He got out five years ago and graduated from college, and Ethan always looked up to him,” Kelly Goolsby said on Monday. “So that example was really informative in Ethan’s life.”

Another of Ethan Goolsby’s close relatives was a Navy Seabee who was stationed at Pearl Harbor for most of her career, so the Navy meant something special to him, his father said.

“The other big thing is that he really, really wanted to see the world,” Kelly Goolsby said. “I think a Navy recruiter told him here at our house that he had been to 120 countries – or at least stopped in and seen — and Ethan’s eyes lit up. He always wanted to go to Japan and Australia, and so he at least thought he had the best chance of doing that in the Navy.”

Joining the Navy fit into Ethan Goolsby’s character because as a young man he would volunteer to work with a variety of non-profit groups, including Habitat for Humanity, H-E-B Feast of Sharing, and the local food bank, his father said.

“He knew he could extend that type of service in the military, in the Navy,” Kelly Goolsby said.

Ethan Goolsby ultimately wanted to become a Navy officer, his father wrote in a news release after the search had been called off.

“The U.S. Navy helped make him into a more self-assured, thoughtful, and diligent young man,” Kelly Goolsby wrote in the news release. “We want people to remember Ethan’s kind heart, warm sense of humor, his desire to serve his country, and all other aspects of his short life.”