Families hold out hope for missing fishermen

July 13, 2011 7:14:13 PM PDT
Many family members of the missing men from the ill-fated fishing boat The Erik attended today's memorial for a man who was confirmed dead.

For those whose family members are still missing, the last ten days have been agony. The uncertainty is deeply painful, as is the decision to call off the search and the refusal by the Department of Defense to get involved.

Michael Leong is the eldest son of Gene Leong, who is still missing at sea.

"Great dad. Was always there to support you and tell you the things that were right from wrong."

Leong has many fond memories of his father. Many involve fishing, something his father dearly loved.

"Always lived life to its fullest. Always loved fishing," Leong said. "He had a contagious smile as anyone in the public could tell you that met him."

It was his love of fishing that brought Gene Leong and his buddies to Mexico for a deep sea adventure. As is now known, that trip was a tragedy instead of a grand adventure.

"We still feel like they're out there because we haven't any of the missing, any of the seven," Leong said, "so either they're in the vessel or they're out there floating and maybe on one of the islands. So we definitely have hope that they're still out there and we're going to make sure they all get home."

When The Erik went down in the Sea of Cortez during the Fourth of July holiday weekend, 19 of the fishermen on board made it to shore. However, eight, including Leong's father, did not.

Leong is a decorated Vietnam veteran who was awarded the Purple Heart, a measure of sacrifice his family believes deserves more from the U.S. Government.

"We want them (the Department of Defense) to make a dive happen, to look at the vessel to see if there's any bodies in there and answer any questions, have some closure for the families," Leong said.


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