Friend of missing El Paso sailor aboard USS McCain calls him ‘hero’

Interior Communications Electrician 1st Class Abraham Lopez, 39, from El Paso, Texas. Courtesy U.S. Navy

Family and friends are clinging to hope as divers search for the missing crew of the USS John S. McCain, one a sailor from El Paso.

Interior Communications Electrician 1st Class Abraham Lopez is one of nine sailors missing from the ship.

Lopez, an Irvin High School graduate, is a husband and father of two.

KFOX14 spoke with one of his friends, Israel Ortega, who said he met Lopez in the '90s when the two were on sports teams at the high school.

Lopez was on the wrestling team, while Ortega played football.

Ortega said he was in disbelief knowing their plans to meet up when Lopez returned to El Paso may never happen.

Lopez was one of the missing sailors aboard the USS John S. McCain when the guided-missile destroyer and a merchant vessel crashed Monday near Singapore.

Ortega said Lopez joined the Navy straight out of high school and dedicated 20 years of his life to it.

“He wanted to join the Navy. He wanted to serve the country, and ultimately, he laid his life while doing what he wanted to do. And to me, that’s who the real heroes are,” Ortega said.

Ortega said he and Lopez last spoke about two weeks ago – when Lopez told him he was getting ready to retire and that this would be his last tour.

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