Naval Education and Training Command (NETC) conducted an awards ceremony at the National Naval Aviation Museum onboard Naval Air Station (NAS) Pensacola June 19.
The ceremony recognized the bravery and selflessness of service members and federal civil servants involved in the Dec. 6 shooting at NAS Pensacola, which left three dead, (not including the shooter) and eight injured.
Vice Adm. John Nowell, Jr., chief of naval personnel, provided opening remarks virtually from Washington; Rear Adm. Kyle Cozad, NETC commander, presided over the ceremony; and Cmdr. Daniel Balsinger, Naval Aviation Schools Command (NASC) executive officer, was the guest speaker.
“The Sailors, Marines, and civilians recognized for their response to this horrific act represent the strength and resiliency of our military,” said Nowell. “These individuals ran towards danger and put themselves in harm’s way, selflessly risking their lives. They demonstrated toughness, trust and connectedness to our Navy and Marine Corps family and I’m proud to call each of them a shipmate.”
Twelve civilians and service members from NASC and Marine Aviation Training Support Group (MATSG) 23 were recognized during the event for their actions.
“It’s still hard to comprehend how something like this could happen here at NAS Pensacola, but it did happen, and I remain in awe at how those we honored here today responded,” said Cozad. “It’s a testament to the service that they were all called to when every one of them, military and civilian, raised their right hand and swore an oath to our nation. None of them came to work that day expecting to face the unimaginable, but they all know firsthand what it means to do what needs to be done in the face of adversity and to sacrifice for each other and our country.”
The awards included the Navy and Marine Corps Medal, Purple Heart, Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal, Department of the Navy Superior Civilian Medal for Valor and Department of the Navy Civilian Service Commendation Medal.
The awardees included:
Ensign Blaine DaPra, Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal
Ensign Breanna Thomas, Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal/Purple Heart
Ensign Kristy Lehmer, Purple Heart
Naval Air Crewman (Helicopter) 2nd Class Carl Daniel, Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal
Mr. Ronnie Moreno, Department of the Navy Superior Civilian Medal for Valor
Mr. Kevin Groff, Department of the Navy Superior Civilian Medal for Valor
Ms. Raven Smith, Department of the Navy Civilian Service Commendation Medal
Gunnery Sgt. Ryan Masel, Navy and Marine Corps Medal
Staff Sgt. Samuel Mullins, Navy and Marine Corps Medal
Staff Sgt. Andrew Pfannenstiel, Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal
Staff Sgt. Andrew Fitzgerald, Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal
Sgt. Kyle Armbruster, Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal
Two service members, Marine Capt. Kyle Whitlock and Airman Apprentice Ryan Blackwell, were previously recognized in May during a private ceremony. Whitlock received the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal, and Blackwell received the Navy and Marine Corps Medal and Purple Heart.
Airman Apprentice George Johnson and Jessica Pickett will receive their awards in separate ceremonies. Johnson, who transferred from NASC, will receive the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal and Purple Heart. Pickett, who was unable to attend the ceremony, will receive the Secretary of Defense Medal of Freedom Award.
For all in attendance, the ceremony was also a reminder of those who lost their lives on Dec. 6 and what it meant to their families and friends.
“I joined the Navy to be a rescue swimmer knowing that one day my number might be called to save someone. I wish it had not been under these circumstances. At the end of the day, I did what I did and I would do it again without skipping a beat,” said Naval Air Crewman (Helicopter) 2nd Class Carl Daniel, a Naval Aircrew Candidate School instructor, who was awarded the Purple Heart and Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal for providing first aid to critically wounded personnel at the scene. “I hope the loved ones of the deceased are doing well and that they can rest assure that we have the watch.”
"It's great that we are all being recognized for our actions, but I feel that we did what any other Marine or Sailor would do when put in the same situation," said Staff Sgt. Andrew J. Pfannenstiel, an instructor at MATSG-23, who was awarded the Navy and Marine Corp Commendation Medal for delivering medical supplies and assisting others in treating wounded personnel.
NETC recruits and trains those who serve our nation, taking them from “street to fleet” by transforming civilians into highly skilled, operational, and combat-ready warfighters, while providing the tools and opportunities for continuous learning and development.