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The El Faro, Lost At Sea: A Son Remembers His Dad

The Jacksonville community came together Thursday night to show support for the families and friends of the crew aboard the ill-fated El Faro.

A couple-hundred people attended the prayer vigil which was held in a large, empty field across the street from JAXPORT headquarters on Talleyrand Avenue.

The cargo ship was on its way from Jacksonville to San Juan, Puerto Rico last Thursday when it fell victim to Hurricane Joaquin, a Category 4 storm with 50 foot waves, 140 mph winds and zero visibility. All of the El Faro's 33 crew members are believed to have drowned.

One of those who died was 63 year old Larry Davis who had been a mariner for 30 years. His son, 29 year old Derek Davis, shared one of his favorite memories.

“I remember when I was growing up and my dad would be off, away on ships for long amounts of time,” Davis said, “and when he’d come back from places all around the world, he would bring these, you know, souvenirs [and] things he had picked up along the way.”

Davis says one time his dad brought him back a gold ring.

Davis said, "It had a nice black jewel in it and I would wear it to school, you know, and I felt really special. You know, this little seventh-grade kid with this gold ring.”

Davis has lived in Taiwan for the past seven years. He says it was his dad who inspired him to go out and see the world.

“I know that he knows that we’re strong enough to handle this,” he said, “and so I just want to make him proud and I want to continue to be, you know, as much of a man and as independent as I can be.”

Davis says his dad spent as much time on land as he did on water. So if his final resting place is at the bottom of the sea, Davis says, he’s OK with that.

Cyd Hoskinson began working at WJCT on Valentine’s Day 2011.