Motorcycle ride pays tribute to Shelton sailor’s Navy service

Lyle Ellerbee

SHELTON — Xavier Sandor, who died by suicide in April while on deployment with the U.S. Navy, was remembered Tuesday as kind, generous and loving, beaming with pleasure every single time he donned the uniform.

Spouse and children and close friends gathered at Sandor’s parents’ Timberlane Drive residence as the Tribute to Fallen Soldiers Memorial Torch Motorbike Trip escorted the memorial flame — 1st lit on July 9 in Eugene, Ore. — to pay back tribute to Xavier’s assistance and sacrifice.

“Thank you for honoring our son,” Xavier’s father John Sandor said to the accumulating. “I knew this was going to be a tricky day, but I was searching ahead to it. We really do not want him to be forgotten.


“This is this sort of a excellent honor,” he additional, tears flowing down his cheeks. “Thank you for making the vacation. This is a legitimate honor for you to come to Shelton and honor Xavier. It means a ton.”

“To know how significantly Xavier was loved,” his mother Mary Graft reported, her voice cracking. “Thank you so substantially.”

Xavier Sandor graduated from Shelton Significant in 2021, in which he starred as the football team’s commencing quarterback. His dad and mom stated he selected to enlist in the Navy, subsequent in the footsteps of his grandfather and uncle, Pat Wynne.

He then went to boot camp in Great Lakes, Unwell., earning the nod as yeoman leader and graduating as an skilled marksman. He then went to A faculty in San Antonio, Texas, wherever he graduated as a master at arms.

“His initially responsibility was on the USS George Washington, which was dry docked in Virginia,” John Sandor mentioned. “Within a few months he’s gone.”

Xavier was 19 when he died on April 15, Superior Friday, just months soon after his deployment to the nuclear powered aircraft carrier. His demise was section of a cluster of suicides aboard the drydocked ship. His parents have put in the past four months not only dealing with the grief but also preventing for answers about why it transpired.

“He was pleased, a great child,” Graft mentioned. “His group of close friends, all people misses him. He was that content particular person. He created folks joyful, and anyone beloved Xavier. A few months at this shipyard, and he will take his personal life. I cannot fathom it. The relaxation of our lives we have to go on devoid of our son.”

Sandor said the Navy investigation into the “non-combat” dying carries on and could final a different eight months in advance of there are answers.

“I don’t know if we’ll ever get the answers we find,” Graft included. “We know what occurred, but who did he go to talk to? Who was out there? He spoke to another person. What was reported?”

Sandor explained Xavier would frequently complain about the ailment of the ship, but never manufactured any statements that would have led him or Graft to think that he was that emotionally upset.

“That ship was no position for sailors to reside,” Sandor claimed soon after he and Graft toured the vessel just after their son’s dying.

Sandor explained Xavier worked the night shift, 12 hrs from 5 p.m. to 5 a.m. In the course of the day, he claimed he was instructed of the fumes and smells from the ongoing do the job that left Xavier unable to rest, so he would stroll a mile to his vehicle to consider and sleep.

“If I knew it was that lousy — I didn’t know, and he genuinely didn’t say something,” Sandor reported. “He claimed it was dreadful but absolutely nothing to the position of what he did to himself.”

Graft mentioned Xavier was lonely and lived in his car or truck when not performing. He would drive 8 several hours dwelling to Shelton to shell out time with loved ones and pals, and Sandor explained he would get his rest and generate again to the ship.

The Navy has because moved hundreds of sailors off the ship, in accordance to media studies.

“That’s a tiny as well late,” Sandor claimed. “I know a major aspect of the command construction is telling them to suck it up. But these are youthful sailors out of large university, first time absent from residence besides boot camp and A faculty. And then they are thrown on a ship that is uninhabitable.”

Not having the answers they look for adds to their psychological torment, he included.

“Something lousy experienced to have happened for him to do that to himself,” he explained.

Sandor stated he spoke to Xavier an hour ahead of his dying, and that he experienced seemed upset. He instructed him to complete his shift and they would speak following. He mentioned they received a textual content from Xavier moments just before his death. He reported he experienced spoken to anyone but had not gotten the response he experienced preferred.

“He explained he was sorry,” Sandor explained.

From that issue, his parents started a frantic try to get to Xavier and have anyone check out on him. But it was as well late, he said.

The pair then drove to Virginia, then it took times prior to they were being authorized to see their son’s human body.

“It’s been tough, but I never want his story to be swept beneath the carpet,” Sandor stated. “Someone demands to be accountable. One thing demands to be finished so these youthful seamen can arrive in and if they require support, they’ll have someone to chat to. They need to have to have an individual to chat to.”

Wynne talked about his nephew’s strength of character and how his loss has devastated the whole household.

“We enjoy him so significantly. He was these kinds of a solid human being, a loving particular person,” Wynne said. “It is difficult, but we have to maintain going, to maintain his memory alive.”

Sandor explained Xavier’s brothers, Greg Graft, 25, and Patrick Sandor, 9, may have been strike the hardest.

“We’re trying our finest to functionality as finest we can. Some days I am just proud of myself for just finding out of mattress,” he stated.

Tribute to Fallen Soldiers Memorial Torch Motorbike Trip is an once-a-year cross country tribute ride, in which the team escorts the ‘Fallen Troopers Memorial Flame’ from Eugene, Ore., to Arlington Nationwide Cemetery in Washington, D.C., halting to honor and pay tribute to the country’s fallen support members together the way.

“We are all so grateful to be in this article to honor your son,” reported Tribute to Fallen Soldiers organizer Warren Williamson.

Tuesday’s ceremony began at the intersection of Timberlane and Eagle drives, exactly where visitors was stopped and the Shelton Hearth Division ladder vans elevated the big American flag more than the Tribute to Fallen Troopers motorhome, which tows at the rear of it the memorial flame.

The motorcycle riders and Gold Star moms stood as Wonderful Grace performed in honor of Xavier.

Then the cellular house and bikes proceeded to the entrance of Sandor’s property where by Williamson talked about the Tribute to Fallen Troopers Northwest and presented reviews on Xavier in advance of presenting the family members with a plaque and portrait of Xavier with his mom and dad.

“You had been blessed adequate to get in touch with him a mate,” Williamson said about Xavier. “He was a sort, sweet, caring, generous man or woman who will be missed just about every day by his loved ones, his pals and his fellow sailors. Could we in no way forget the service and sacrifice of Xavier Sandor.”

Sandor mentioned the household was happy of his selection to carry on what had been a loved ones custom by signing up for the Navy.

“I can see it being terrifying in the commencing,” he said, “But whichever took place in that a few months took a good, young talented sturdy child out of this earth.”

Xavier’s mom and dad mentioned many organizations have arrived at out to aid, but the couple say it is “too before long.

“It is our time to grieve,” Sandor stated. “We need to by some means just get by this day by day. It has not even been four months. In my intellect he’s continue to coming household, he just at the ship, on deployment, and he’ll be coming home. I know I’m torturing myself but that is all I have right now.”

“Xavier was a Shelton boy,” Graft mentioned. “Everyone who realized him cherished him.”

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