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Navy awards medals to victims of Pensacola base shooting

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navy base (Getty Images)

The U.S. Navy held a memorial service Thursday for the three Sailors killed in the Dec. 6 shooting at Naval Air Station Pensacola presenting posthumous awards to the fallen service members.

Family members received the Navy and Marine Corps Medal for heroism on behalf of Naval Aircrewman (Mechanical) 3rd Class Mohammed S. Haitham, 19, from St. Petersburg; Naval Aircrewman (Mechanical) 3rd Class Cameron S. Walters, 21, from Richmond Hill, Georgia; and Ensign Joshua K. Watson, 23, from Enterprise, Alabama.

Haitham and Walters also were awarded the Good Conduct Medal, a recognition for enlisted Sailors. All three Sailors were serving as students at Naval Aviation Schools Command.

Chris Grady, commander of the U.S. Fleet Forces Command, presided over the ceremony.

“We can never know what will be demanded of us on any given day, and no one could have foreseen what would be demanded on December 6th, but these men answered the call,” Grady said. “Through their heroic acts, they saved lives by sacrificing their own and for that, we are forever grateful.”

The memorial service allowed the Navy to honor and pay respect to the victims and their families. The service included remarks from Capt. Vincent Segars, commanding officer of NASC, and a four-ship missing man flyover by the U.S. Navy’s flight demonstration squadron, the Blue Angels.

With NAS Pensacola known as “the cradle of naval aviation,” Segars described it as a special place where all naval aviators and aircrewmen start living their dreams of flying in service to their nation. Segars encouraged NASC students and shipmates of the fallen to always remember Dec. 6.

“One common theme from these heroic Sailors is their infectious spirit that sought to motivate and bring out the best in all they served with,” Segars said. “Let us honor their memory by achieving our dreams in earning the wings of gold, and wear them proudly as we assume the watch.”

On Dec. 10, Acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas Modly proclaimed Haitham and Walters as naval aircrewmen by awarding them their wings of gold. They were posthumously advanced to naval aircrewman mechanical 3rd class. Modly also proclaimed Watson as a naval aviator, and awarded him wings of gold as well.

“We owe them a debt that can never be repaid, and it is one that we will never forget,” said Grady. “These men have rightly been described as heroes, and that is how we will remember them.”

Photo: U.S. Navy