NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — The Sailor who was gunned down by a civilian on the USS Mahan last month will be awarded one of the rarest military decorations.
Petty Officer Mark A. Mayo was killed on March 24 by a civilian transportation worker who gained access to Naval Station Norfolk. Navy officials say he died heroically.
“He jumped into the way, between the gunman and petty officer of the watch,” said Capt. Robert Clark, Commanding Officer of Naval Station Norfolk. “She fell to the ground. He covered her and gave his life for hers.”
Now the Sailor will be awarded the Navy Marine Corps Medal at Arlington National Cemetery, according to Terri Davis with Naval Station Norfolk.
“The Navy and Marine Corps Medal is the highest non-combat decoration awarded for heroism by the United States Department of the Navy to the members of the United States Navy and United States Marine Corps,” Davis said.
Doug Sterner, a Vietnam Veteran who manages the Military Times Hall of Valor Awards database, told WAVY.com the medal has been awarded between 5,000 and 10,000 times since its creation in 1942. It ranks below the Silver Star and Distinguishing Flying Cross, but above the Bronze Star, Purple Heart, and Meritorious Service Medal.
Notable recipients of the Navy Marine Corps Medal include President John F. Kennedy, for his actions to save his crew on PT-109, and James E. Williams, the most decorated enlisted Sailor in history.
Vice Admiral Mark Ferguson, vice chief of naval operations, will present the award to Mayo’s family during a private ceremony before the Sailor is laid to rest at Arlington Friday afternoon.
Mayo enlisted in the Navy in Oct. 2007 and reported to Naval Station Norfolk in May 2011. He is a native of Hagerstown, Md.