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US Navy sailor dies in non-combat incident in the Red Sea

Aviation Machinist Mate 2nd Class Oriola Michael Aregbesola served aboard the USS Mason.
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The destroyer the USS Mason in the Atlantic Ocean in 2021. (photo by Bill Mesta/U.S. Navy)

A Navy sailor assigned to the 5th Fleet died this week in what the Department of Defense said was a non-combat related injury. 

Aviation Machinist Mate 2nd Class Oriola Michael Aregbesola died on Wednesday, March 20, the Pentagon announced today. Aregbesola was serving aboard the destroyer the USS Mason, part of the Dwight D. Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group, which is deployed to the waters off of Yemen.

The incident is currently under investigation and the Department of Defense did not share any additional details surrounding the cause Aregbesola’s death. 

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Aregbesola, of Miramar, Florida, joined the Navy in July 2020. He was assigned to the “Swamp Foxes” of Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 74. The squadron was deployed with the USS Mason.

“Petty Officer Aregbesola fully embodied the selfless character and thoughtful warrior spirit of the United States Navy Sailor,” Cmdr. Eric Kohut, the commander of HSM-74, said in a statement. “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.”

The USS Mason, an Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer, has been in the waters around Yemen for months, in response to attacks by Yemen’s Houthi movement on commercial ships in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden. U.S. Navy and allied forces have shot down Houthi drones and missiles, as well as targeted radar and launch sites in Yemen proper. The Dwight D. Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group also has participated in the several wider coalition airstrikes conducted on Houthi-controlled regions of Yemen this year.

In November, the USS Mason was involved in an anti-piracy action. The destroyer and ships from Task Force 151, which handles anti-piracy operations in the area, came to the rescue of a commercial tanker that had been seized by five pirates in an attack. The Mason and other ships scared off the pirates, who left the tanker and tried to escape, but were quickly taken into custody. 

Update: 3/23/2024: This story has been updated with additional information on Aregbesola and a statement from the commanding officer of HSM 74.

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