This photo provided by the family of Frank Kohler shows...

This photo provided by the family of Frank Kohler shows the 50-year-old man from Tall Timbers, Md. Kohler was one of the victims killed at the Washington Navy Yard. (Sept. 17, 2013) Credit: AP

One was nicknamed after a Hindu god, another was building his own plane and a third used to be the "King Oyster" at a regional festival.

They were among the 12 people killed during Monday's rampage at the Washington Navy Yard, all different but now united by the grief of their loved ones.

As investigators try to find out what set off former Navy reservist Aaron Alexis, victims' families and friends honor the Navy Yard workers with their memories.

Vishnu Pandit

He was a lover of the ocean and a man nicknamed Kisan, after the Hindu god Krishna by those who thought he had all the qualities of a deity, said longtime friend Nuns Jain, speaking for the family Tuesday at a park outside their home in North Potomac, Md.

The naval marine engineer, 61, was a U.S. patriot with his roots in India, the first of his college class to leave for the United States in the mid 1970s, Jain said.

After earning two college degrees, Pandit joined the Navy in the 1980s, his friend said.

"I think he was a true patriot," Jain said. "He loved his family, he loved the nation, he loved the Navy, and he did his utmost to do his best for the sailor that he felt he was serving."

He grew up in Mumbai, overlooking beautiful views of the Indian Ocean, Jain said. As young men 44 years ago, the friend said, he and Pandit trained together at the Marine Engineering College in Calcutta, the equivalent of the Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point.

Besides the Navy, Pandit's other passions were his wife and two sons, his friend said.

Sylvia Frasier

By day, Frasier, 53, was an IT specialist at the Navy Yard, and at night, she was the front end manager at the Walmart.

She was a workaholic who always had a big smile, said her neighbors in Waldorf, Md.

"She was either always rushing off to work or rushing off on Saturday mornings to choir rehearsal or rushing off to church on Sundays," said neighbor and friend Renita Morse.

Next door neighbor David Beaner said he and his wife regularly checked on Frasier and her house because she lived alone and was rarely home.

"Just meeting her -- she had this beautiful smile," he said

Kenneth Bernard Proctor

The 46-year-old father of two boys had a long career at the Navy Yard and was the kind of man who rolled with the punches, said his younger sister, Julie Dyer.

"He always liked to laugh and joke," she said. "He took things in stride. He wanted to make life as happy as possible."

His ex-wife, Evelyn Proctor, said he was a loving man who was close to her and his two teenage sons even after the couple divorced this year. The two remained in Waldorf, Md., 10 minutes from each other, high school sweethearts who split after 19 years of marriage, she said.

They still talked every day, including Monday, before he left for work as a civilian utilities foreman at the Navy Yard, Evelyn Proctor said.

Proctor didn't work in Building 197, where most of the people were shot, but on Monday, she said, he was in the cafeteria, part of his morning routine.

Michael Arnold

A retired Navy commander, Arnold also was an avid pilot who was building a light airplane at his home in Lorton, Va., his uncle Steve Hunter said.

"It would have been the first plane he ever owned," Hunter said. "It's partially assembled in his basement."

Hunter said his nephew, 59, had previously been stationed at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

He worked at the Navy Yard on a team that designed vessels such as the USS Makin Island, an amphibious assault ship used by the Marine Corps.

"He was a loving son of his mother and his wife, and great father to his kids," Hunter said.

Kathleen Gaarde

The financial analyst, 62, worked at the shipyards but had been planning the pleasures of retirement with her husband, Douglass, who retired from the Navy last year.

"Today my life partner of 42 years (38 of them married) was taken from me, my grown son and daughter and friends," he wrote in an email to the AP. "We were just starting to plan our retirement activities and now none of that matters."

She lived in Woodbridge, Va., where she counted bluebirds for a nearby wildlife refuge.

Martin Bodrog

He was in the Navy, even upon retiring after a 22-year career that included service as a surface warfare officer.

He died a day after his 55th birthday. He oversaw the design and procurement of naval ships by using his expertise in amphibious operations.

The 1981 U.S. Naval Academy graduate was also a lifelong hockey fan, particularly of the Boston Bruins.

He lived in Annandale, Va., and could frequently be seen in all types of weather, even after blizzards, in his trademark Bruins jersey and his shorts, walking his dog and helping shovel all the driveways of his elderly neighbors, those who knew him said.

Frank Kohler

He was a past president of a Rotary Club in Maryland, and, as such, he proudly held the title of "King Oyster" at the annual festival celebrating the region's signature bivalve each October.

"He walks around with a crown and robe, and gives out candy," said Bob Allen, Kohler's former boss at Lockheed Martin in southern Maryland.

Kohler, 50, had driven up to the Navy Yard for a meeting when the shootings occurred, friends told Allen.
A resident of Timbers, Md., Kohler, 50, was an avid but not quite skilled golfer, a Pittsburgh Steelers fan and a hunter, his friend said.

John R. Johnson

Johnson was a civilian contractor working as a logistics analyst at the Naval Sea Systems Command.

On Oct. 7, the Derwood, Md., resident would have turned 74, The father of four girls, he was expecting his 11th grandchild in November, his family said.

Mary Delorenzo Knight

The 51-year-old IT specialist from Reston, Va., was the daughter of a former Green Beret instructor, said Theodore Hisey, a family spokesman.

Knight was also a part-time instructor of information technology at Northern Virginia Community College, school spokeswoman Jessica Baxter said.

Richard Michael Ridgell

Ridgell, 52, started with the Maryland State Police in 1983 and resigned in 2000 as a corporal, a spokesman said.

"He was very familiar with weapons," said his father-in-law, Thomas C. Lyons.

Ridgell had been employed by a number of security firms and his work had taken him to the Middle East, Lyons said.

Ridgell lived in Westminster, Md., with his wife of 20 years, coached softball for his two daughters, and, like a true Marylander, he loved the state's culinary specialty, Lyons said. "He loved his crabs."

The other victims are Arthur Daniels, 51, of Washington, D.C.; and Gerald L. Read, 58, of Alexandria, Va.
With Nicole Fuller, AP and Bloomberg News

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