Amid increasing concerns about the spread of the coronavirus, officials have postponed an awards ceremony to honor nearly three dozen military personnel and civilians who sprang to action during a deadly attack at Naval Air Station Pensacola in December.

Cmdr. James Stockman, a spokesperson for Naval Education and Training Command, confirmed the postponement Wednesday. It was first reported by the Pensacola News Journal.

Stockman said the postponement “is a precautionary measure.”

No official dates have been set for another ceremony, he said.


At least 21 Florida residents have tested positive for COVID-19 as of March 11, according to the state Department of Health. There have been two deaths and 147 tests pending with more than 350 being monitored.

None of the positive tests so far is tied to Escambia County, where the Pensacola base is located.

The awards ceremony is intended to honor 34 people who distinguished themselves during the Dec. 6 attack at the base by a Royal Saudi Air Force student training at the base.

Three sailors, Airman Mohammed S. Haitham, Airman Apprentice Cameron S. Walters and Ensign Joshua K. Watson were killed in the attack and eight others were wounded.

Haitham and Walters were posthumously advanced to aircrewman mechanical third class by the Navy in December and Watson was named an aviator.

The three sailors are expected to be honored with awards in separate ceremonies at a later date.

Courtney Mabeus is a senior writer at Navy Times. Mabeus previously covered the military for The Virginian-Pilot, in Norfolk, Va., where she first set foot on an aircraft carrier.

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