A North Charleston Navy mom is sitting proud after learning that her son was the first on his ship to fire on a pirate boat in the Indian Ocean.
Regina King, who lives in the Archdale subdivision, got a phone call from her son detailing how the pirate boat mistook the amphibious dock landing ship Ashland for a commercial vessel they planned to plunder.
Her son, Petty Officer Justin Myers, 23, was manning a 25 mm gun early on April 10 when an open skiff with six alleged pirates on board fired their weapons. The attack occurred about 380 miles off the coast of Djibouti, a small East African nation on the southern mouth of the Red Sea.
Sailors aboard the Ashland reacted quickly. Myers returned fire with a few rounds from the machine gun, neutralizing the skiff. At least one of the attackers lost a leg.
King said her son spoke of the event in an almost solemn voice, saying that he wasn't nervous but was doing what the Navy had trained him to do.
"He was not overly excited," she said Wednesday. "It was very much, 'I did what I had to do.' "
Myers' Facebook account showed a little more enthusiasm. "I love my job! Enough said," he wrote. Also, "We took care of business and we did our job. Thanks to everyone for your support and worries, but worry no more. The Ashland is perfectly fine and everyone can sleep easy tonight."
Myers, whose ship is home-ported in Virginia, went to high school in Savannah but spent part of his youth playing in the waters around Charleston Harbor. "He's been on the water his entire life and offshore fishing since he was 4," King said.
Myers has a wife and 10-month-old daughter.
Before the attack, his time in the Gulf of Aden had been pretty easy going. The crew would sometimes fish and soak up the sun between patrol duties. Daytime temperatures hit 119 degrees.
After the shooting, Myers joined the sailors who boarded the skiff to make arrests. "He felt bad for them because of the conditions they were living in," King said, adding that there was little food or clean water. "The pirates were not out there living it up."
Six men were taken into custody. All have since been indicted by the U.S. government, appearing last month at the federal courthouse in Norfolk, Va.
King said it took her a while to absorb that someone on the other side of the globe had opened fire on her son.
"It is impossible to tell how very proud we are of him," she said.