By Oliver Gettell
June 21, 2017 at 07:18 PM EDT
Brooke Baldwin
Credit: CNN

CNN anchor Brooke Baldwin conducted a moving interview Wednesday with the father of one of the seven sailors who died aboard the USS Fitzgerald after it collided with a container ship last weekend.

“He’s a hero in my eyes,” Darrold Martin said of his late son, Xavier Martin. “He was my best friend, period. But I’m finding out now that every day, there was not a day that I wasn’t mentioned, saying that ‘My dad is my best friend.'”

Martin continued, “So many people I’ve talked to over there, from different walks of life, all of them have said the same thing: ‘You were his world. It was so important that all the achievements were because of you. He wanted to make you proud, that was his ambition.'”

Martin and Baldwin both fought back tears as the former spoke of his son, and at one point Baldwin found herself at a loss for words. “Mr. Martin, you’re choking me up just talking about him being your best friend,” she said. “Forgive me.”

Personnel Specialist First Class Xavier Martin, 24, and six fellow sailors were found dead in flooded berthing compartments Sunday, a day after the Fitzgerald was struck by a cargo ship off the busy Japanese coast in the middle of the night. The United States Navy and Coast Guard are investigating what caused the crash, as are the Japanese Coast Guard and the Japan Transport Safety Board.

Darrold Martin also said of his son, “Words can’t describe how proud I am. I’ve kept every text from the time he’s joined the Navy, and there’s just numerous texts that I’ve expressed how proud I am. I’m so proud to be his father. I could not ask for a better child. Never.”

Watch the full interview above.