Nine current and former Naval Special Warfare sailors are receiving Navy Crosses and another eight are getting Silver Stars after Navy Secretary Ray Mabus upgraded their combat valor awards, said Mabus' spokesman Capt. Patrick McNally.
Mabus presented most of the awards at a Friday ceremony in Virginia Beach, Virginia, McNally said. One sailor receiving the Navy Cross was unable to attend the ceremony. Two other awards – one Navy Cross and one Silver Star – will be presented posthumously.
"Today we honor some of our nation's finest heroes, not just for their individual acts of courage and bravery in the face of danger, but for the everyday selflessness that they and their peers demonstrate," Mabus said Friday in a statement.
The Navy has not yet released the sailors' names or award citations.
The sailors' medals were upgraded as part of a Defense Department review of awards issued since Sept. 11, 2001 to help ensure that service members are properly recognized for their bravery in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere.
Of the more than 300 valor awards that the Navy reviewed, Mabus has approved more than 30 upgrades for sailors and Marines, McNally said. Most of the awards are expected to be presented within the next few weeks.
"This generation of sailors, and particularly those serving as part of our Naval Special Warfare team, is an extraordinary group of men and women who have given so much to our country," Mabus said in a statement. "Although today we recognize these individuals for their heroism and valor in combat, we are also honoring the Sailors and Marines who fought beside them and those who are still in the fight."
Separately, Mabus has upgraded the combat valor awards for four Marines and one sailor. Sgt. Michael Mendoza received the Navy Cross Friday in a ceremony held at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point in North Carolina. Lance Cpl. Edward Huth, Sgt. Nicholas Brandau, Staff Sgt. Steven Davis and Navy Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Michael Atkinson received Silver Stars.