Friday, March 28, 2014

Fullbore Friday

In port.

Just another watch on the pier.

Tic. Toc. Yawn. It's 23:20. Watch is almost over.

Thing is, there is no such thing as a normal watch. You never know when the call comes. You don't even have to be at sea. You don't even have to be overseas. You can just be at the largest naval base in the world in your own nation.

When in a moment things can turn from boredom to the point where character, instinct and training take over. The first, is the most important - the rest only support it.

MA2 Class Mark Mayo, USN. Fullbore Shipmate; fullbore.
(the shooter) parked his tractor-trailer cab near Pier 1, was able to walk onto the pier and began heading up a ramp toward the USS Mahan when he was confronted by Navy security, said Mario Palomino, the Naval Criminal Investigative Service special agent in charge of the Norfolk field office.

The man then got into an altercation with a female petty officer and disarmed her, Navy officials said. Palomino said Mayo stepped over the disarmed officer and fired his weapon at the assailant. He was serving on watch for the installation that night and came to help once he saw the civilian board the ship.

Multiple pistol rounds were fired between the gunman and Navy security forces responding to the scene, Palomino said. The Navy has said previously that the truck driver fired the shot that killed Mayo.

The base's commanding officer, Capt. Robert Clark, said Mayo's actions to protect the disarmed officer (sic) were extraordinary.

""He basically gave his life for hers," said Clark said during a news conference.
Ship, shipmate, self? Yep; it means exactly what it says.
MA2 Mayo enlisted in the U.S. Navy in October 2007 and began working in Norfolk in May 2011.

“Petty Officer Mayo’s actions on Monday evening were nothing less than heroic. He selflessly gave his own life to ensure the safety of the Sailors on board USS Mahan (DDG 72),” said Capt. Robert E. Clark, Jr., commanding officer, Naval Station Norfolk.
There is more background at the above links and here about the shooter that I really don't want to cover here. There is plenty of time later for that and what lessons we can take away from it.

I have my opinions, but not here, not today. 

Petty Officer Mayo, well done.


Anonymous said...

I am nervous about this story because this is NOT the account that is in the OPREP. Not even close.

BravoZulu said...

Wow, there are a LOT of comments here, as I expected. So here goes my two cents as a current Sailor.

Background: female, on both the VBSS team and a Search and Rescue Swimmer. In my past assignments I've worked extensively with shipboard Force Protection (training, drills, etc).

First of all, Petty Officer Mayo is a hero. Period, end of sentence, full stop. I would proudly serve on a destroyer named after him, and I hope his loved ones find some measure of peace in the fact that he was one of the finest of America's armed forces.

Down to the debate that seems to be at the heart of the conversation: women. Specifically, women in combat roles. Now, I have not been in a warzone. My fiancee has, and I have spent hours of our nights together with him in Ramadi and Fallujah during his extensive flashbacks, and just from those experiences, I never want to experience combat if I do not have to. HOWEVER, the bottom line is that our forces must be trained and capable.

Trained: I do not know the level of training onboard the MAHAN. There are standard drills, but depending on the motivation of those running the drills, they can either be good training or not. And no amount of training will ever prepare anyone for their reaction when the sh!t really hits the fan. You don't know whether you're going to go "in the black" until it happens. From what I've read, most people do, to some extent, and their survivability depends on their ability to snap themselves out of it and let training take over.

Capability: Being a woman with my background, it might suprise most that I will say that I do not support integrating women in combat roles. I do not think most women should be filling the roles that they do today. I accept the fact that I am an anomaly on the spectrum--I am capable of double-digit pullups (strict, locked elbows at the bottom and chin over the bar, no kipping), a sub-10:00 mile and a half, I swim faster than at least 50% of the SAR guys I train with (and the training includes some no-holds-barred grappling in the water and underwater, simulating a panicked survivor) etc. So I believe there are women who are physically capable of handling the rigors of training such as BUD/S and the Infantry COI. HOWEVER...they will be VERY FEW and far between. Probably single digits for years. And the top knobs with the hankering to put another bullet on their FITREPs won't accept that, so they'll lower the standard. Which is unacceptable, and setting all women up for failure.

Bottom line: Training...inadequate. SA...inadequate. We should not let policymakers dictate our level of force protection training or our inclusion of those not physically capable of executing their duties. There needs to be realistic training (i.e. blanks, sim rounds, etc) and a removal of the stigma of "what if I go to mast for this."