NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — John Hamen of Chesapeake died after he was detained by Houthi rebels in Yemen, according to the State Department. Few details about his death have been released. Hamen leaves behind a wife and seven children.
“It’s sad that it happened to such a good guy, it really is,” said Ryan Lynn, who served with Hamen while stationed in Tampa, Fl.
Lynn remembers Hamen as a dedicated service member, husband, and father. WAVY.com has learned he was a retired Army Master Sergeant and served for 20 years.
“You could tell that he truly cared about your well-being, whether you were deployed or whether you were back home,” said Lynn.
Hamen was Lynn’s superior at Joint Communications Support Element (JCSE) in Tampa.
“He truly cared about his Soldiers, Sailors, Marines and Airmen,” said Lynn, explaining JCSE was a joint command.
Lynn had no idea the father of seven had settled in Chesapeake, not far from the Norfolk restaurant he is the General Manager of, The Dirty Buffalo. He told WAVY News’ Liz Palka, he couldn’t believe it when he heard from a friend over the weekend that Hamen had died.
“It just seems like a very bizarre situation and it still is very shocking,” he said.
The State Department said Hamen was detained by Houthi rebels in Yemen on Oct. 20. It is not yet known how he died. NBC News learned Hamen was a contractor for a company maintaining a building that was used by the United Nations.
Hamen’s wife, Jen Hamen, made a post to his Facebook page saying the family was notified of his death on Friday.
Jen Hamen said, “Our family is heartbroken right now. I have lost the love of my life, my best friend, and my 7 kids have lost the best dad ever!”
Other friends have now started a GoFundMe page in hopes of raising $30,000 for Hamen’s family.
Lynn’s restaurant, the Dirty Buffalo, is also donating 10 percent of Wednesday’s proceeds to Hamen’s memorial fund.
“He loved his country,” said Lynn. “He loved his family and that showed on a daily basis in the way that he led his soldiers and the way that he talked about his family.”