Friday, April 22, 2005

Heroism at sea: Bravo Zulu Seaman Garrett

We hear, not enough IMAO, about the great acts of heroism taking place on the battlefield during the GWOT. There are many times that bravery is required far from combat, in the face of something just as dangerous.

Day to day operations at sea are fraught with danger; though you live with constantly, and safety is focus of every action at sea, you don’t appreciate how fast things can go bad until something in the chain breaks. With surprising speed, you can go from the mundane at sea activities to a nightmare of fire and blood.

In those moments when everything changes, the training and character of our Sailors come out. Without time for reflection or thought, our people act. That lowly seaman stuck on midwatch or riding his duty in the scullery, can in one instant become a hero.

One such sailor is Seaman Garrett of the USS Preble (DDG 88).

While training a seaman on the guided-missile destroyer's flight deck, a mechanical failure caused a helicopter to crash onto the ship's flight deck during landing.

After pushing the seaman out of harm's way, into the hangar bay and securing the door to protect those inside, Garrett ran back onto the flight deck to provide first aid to an air crewman who was thrown from the helicopter. Only after the situation stabilized, and when ordered, did Garrett depart the scene to receive medical attention for his own injury.
Here is where you find that unique character in the best of today’s Sailors.

"The helicopter crash we experienced that day was a terrifying experience," said Preble's supervisor, Senior Chief Gas Turbine System Technician (Electrical) (SW) Kane Valek. "Seaman Garrett did not freeze, he did not act on his own self-preservation instinct. Instead, he immediately went to protect his shipmates. He went to the aid of others. That is not something you can teach or coach. That is heroism."
For his actions, Seaman Garrett was awarded the Navy/Marine Corps Medal.

The Navy/Marine Corps Medal is awarded to Sailors and Marines who distinguish themselves by heroism not involving actual conflict with the enemy. For acts of life-saving, or attempted lifesaving, it is required that the action be performed at the risk of one's own life.
Reason 4,567,943 why I get my skivvies in a wad whenever someone ignorantly states, “The Sailors today aren’t the quality that they were when I was in the Navy…….bla…bla…bla.” Harumph.

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