By Gabriel Owens, contributor
At approximately 7 a.m. local time, Aug. 19, after a Sailor assigned to USS Lake Erie failed to report for duty, the ship conducted man overboard procedures while operating in the eastern Pacific Ocean with the John C. Stennis Carrier Group Strike Group (JCS CSG), according to the Third Fleet Naval Public Affairs Office.
The Sailor was not found on board and an extensive search is underway, according to Navy Times.
While the Navy has not officially released the name of the Sailor, AtlantaLoop.com has confirmed that it is L.t.j.g. Asante McCalla, 24, of Lilburn, Ga. McCalla is a junior officer assigned to Erie, according to McCalla’s father, Howard.
“I just talked to him Friday [Aug. 17] on Skype,” Howard McCalla said. “He was jovial and trading burns with me…he was talking about what he was going to do the next time he visited home.”
Howard and his wife Alicia both spoke to him last that Friday. They said that, according to what the Navy told them, Asante was last seen around 11:30 p.m. the night prior. They have not been told how the investigation is being handled. “They did not say if this is being treated as an accident or not,” Howard said.
The McCalla’s were first contacted by the local Navy detachment in Marietta on Sunday afternoon. They only received a “few sentences with little information” from the Navy representatives at the time. Later that evening, Erie’s commanding officer, Capt. Christine O’Connell, called them, according to Howard, but provided little new information. The McCalla’s said they learned more from the Navy Times article than official sources. (The Navy Times is an independent civilian publication under the Military Times banner).
Asante McCalla is a 2012 graduate of Parkview High School in Lilburn. He attended Morehouse State College on a full military officer scholarship, including roles in leadership while a cadet in ROTC, according to his parents. He was recently promoted to his current rank and was close to completing his Surface Warfare Officer designation, they said.
Their frustration with lack of communication from the Navy led them to reaching out to the command’s family Facebook page, where Alicia’s post asking for information was apparently blocked or censored, she said. “I just want to know what’s going on with the search for my son.”
Alicia posted a Facebook video that began going viral on Tuesday, asking for more information on her son’s disappearance. The McCalla’s say they have not otherwise been contacted by the Navy or NCIS asking questions relating to an investigation.
“We understand security and procedure,” said Howard. “But the lack of communication is very frustrating.”
AtlantaLoop.com is awaiting comment on this story from Third Fleet Naval Public Affairs.