Several sailors who helped stop an armed gunman from storming Naval Air Station Corpus Christi, Texas, in May were presented with medals recognizing their heroism last week.
Adam Salim Alsahli, 20, attempted to storm the base in the early morning on May 21 in an attack that injured one sailor and has been designated an act of terrorism by the FBI.
Alsahli attempted to get on base at about 6:15 a.m. that day via the Ocean Gate.
As he approached in his vehicle, Alsahli fired a handgun and struck Master-at-Arms 2nd Class Yaisa Coburn, hitting her protective vest, according to a Navy release announcing the awards.
Despite being struck, Coburn raised the final denial barrier gate, radioed for help and then returned fire.
Another gate sentry, Master-at-Arms 3rd Class Levi Milligan, exposed himself to gunfire as he scrambled to his police car in case he needed to chase Alsahli.
After his vehicle was stopped by the barrier, Alsahli got out “and started shooting at Milligan with semi-automatic rifle fire,” the Navy release states.
As Alsahli targeted other responding personnel arriving on scene, Coburn and Milligan fatally shot him before he ever gained access to the base.
Acting Navy Under Secretary Gregory Slavonic presented the two with the Navy and Marine Corps Medal Oct. 8.
The medal is the highest non-combat decoration awarded for heroism, according to the Navy.
“Five months ago, these individuals' rapid, decisive actions, and their courage under fire, ensured no loss of life,” Slavonic said in a statement. “This surprise assault could have been deadlier, but they utilized their training and responded swiftly and exceptionally thwarting the nefarious intent by the intruder.”
Seven sailors who responded to the scene were awarded Navy Commendation Medals for their meritorious service under fire.
They are Master-at-Arms 1st Class Candace Dickson, Master-at-Arms 2nd Class Jamie Moore, Master-at-Arms 3rd Class Daniel Wallace, Master-at-Arms 2nd Class Lorne Mayfield, Master-at-Arms 2nd Class Robert Delgado, Master-at-Arms 2nd Class Franko Hunter and Master-at-Arms 2nd Class Gregory Listman.
Master-at-Arms 3rd Class Colby Gillette and Master-at-Arms Seaman Edmond Cristales were also recognized for helping secure the main gate while establishing an emergency entry for civilian responders.
Federal Officer Stuart Levitt also received the Distinguished Civilian Medal for Valor Thursday, the highest Navy recognition for civilian acts of heroism, for spotting a potential explosive device in Alsahli’s car and evacuating everyone to a safe standoff point.
“I am extremely proud of our Security personnel,” Capt. Chris Jason, NAS Corpus Christi’s commanding officer, said in a statement. “They definitely saved lives.”
Geoff is a senior staff reporter for Military Times, focusing on the Navy. He covered Iraq and Afghanistan extensively and was most recently a reporter at the Chicago Tribune. He welcomes any and all kinds of tips at firstname.lastname@example.org.