Friends describe missing U.S. Navy sailor from Montg. Co. as charismatic, lifelong friend

170824-N-N0101-003 WASHINGTON (Aug. 24, 2017) U.S. Navy file photo of Electronics Technician 2nd Class Kevin Sayer Bushell, 26, from Gaithersburg, Maryland, who was stationed aboard USS John S. McCain (DDG 56) when it collided with the Liberian-flagged merchant vessel Alnic MC, Aug. 21. Bushell was identified as missing on Aug. 24. Navy and Marine Corps divers will continue search and recovery efforts inside flooded compartments in the ship for the missing Sailors. (U.S. Navy photo/Released)

A missing U.S. Navy sailor from Gaithersburg, Maryland is being remembered by his friends as the person who could turn a mundane gathering into an unforgettable party.

Kevin Bushell, 26, joined the U.S. Navy roughly seven years ago. He was currently an Electronics Technician 2nd Class aboard the USS John McCain, an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer.

On Monday, a Liberian-flagged oil tanker collided with the USS McCain east of the Strait of Malacca near Malaysia. The crash punctured the port side of the 505-foot-long military vessel.

The point of impact allowed a rush of salt water to flood the living quarters during the early morning while many crewmembers were still asleep. The U.S. Navy later confirmed five sailors were injured and another 10 reported missing, including Bushell. One of those 10 sailors has since been confirmed deceased.

Montgomery County Public Schools confirmed Bushell graduated from Gaithersburg High School in 2009.

His parents are divorced, but both still reside in Gaithersburg. Sources tell ABC7 his mother Karen is the Deputy Clerk at the Montgomery County Circuit Courthouse in Rockville, Maryland. His father Tom owns and operates a home improvement company. Bushell also had a number of siblings and extended family members.

On Thursday afternoon, around a dozen cars were parked in the driveway of Bushell's mother's home. A young woman who answered the front door advised that the family was grieving privately.

Speaking by telephone, Bushell's father described his son as a bright and kind person, who from an early age knew the difference between right and wrong.

"There wasn't a bad bone in his body," Tom Bushell stated.

Stephen Townes roomed with Bushell from 2012 to 2014, while both young men were stationed in Rota, Spain. Townes recalled Bushell's persistent laughter, infectious smile, goofy nature and tall stature - standing around 6-foot-4.

"His energy was always positive and people flocked to him for that reason," Townes told ABC7. "He was an incredibly hard worker and a great sailor, and I think anyone who worked with him would tell you the same."

Townes further explained Bushell fancied rap music and horror movies, and was a proud dog owner. The 26-year-old was also married to the love of his life.

"I remember when he met his wife," said Townes, who separated from the U.S. Navy earlier this year as a Hospital Corpsman Petty Officer Third Class. "His eyes would light up when he talked about her."

On Facebook, a woman identifying herself as Bushell's wife, expressed excitement about booking tickets for an upcoming in-person visit with her enlisted husband. She made that post only two weeks before Bushell’s ship was hit within one of the world’s most treacherous shipping routes.

Jason McLawhorn, another fellow U.S. Navy sailor, also recalled fond memories and stories of Bushell stories of passing nights on the watch floor, shooting the breeze on the smoke deck and Bushell showing up unannounced to his daughter's first birthday party, present in hand.

“Near the end of Kevin’s tour, he was up for orders and I offered him advice to go to Japan because I had enjoyed it so much. Also, it would have been a great career builder, because if you can survive 7th Fleet, you can survive anything! This slogan was always meant to be figurative and not literal," McLawhorn concluded.

close video ad
Unmutetoggle ad audio on off