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YOKOSUKA, Japan - Fifty Sailors who distinguished themselves for their bravery and contributions to damage control efforts aboard the guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain (DDG 56), were recognized in a ceremony aboard the ship, July 10.
“To commemorate on this ship what these men and women did is both notable and fitting, because the memory of their actions represent the toughness and pride of our Navy,” said Adm. John Aquilino, commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet. “It also helps remind the next generation of Sailors the moral character, personal sacrifice, and selfless commitment required to not give up the ship.”
Aquilino, along with Vice Adm. Phil Sawyer, commander, U.S. 7th Fleet, presented medals to seven members of the McCain crew in attendance.
Those Sailors recognized during the event were: Lt. Aaron Van Driessche who received the Navy and Marine Corps Medal, Chief Warrant Officer 2 Joshua Patat and Chief Damage Controlman Anthony Ebarb received the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal, while Gas Turbine Systems Technician (Electrical) 3rd Class Steven Osenbruk, Electrician’s Mate 2nd Class Ethan Golston, Gas Turbine Systems Technician (Electrical) 2nd Class Thomas Neff, and Navy Counselor First Class Menh Luc each received the Navy Achievement Medal.
“This morning you will hear about a crew, that in the midst of chaos and calamity, displayed exceptional initiative, technical competence, teamwork, grit, determination, and an unconquerable spirit." said Cmdr. Ryan Easterday, commanding officer, USS John S. McCain. “Today is about publicly sharing the untold stories of heroism from the collision—the second, more positive half of a painful chapter in the ship’s history.”
Overall, Seven McCain Sailors were awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Medal, 15 were awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal, while 28 received the Navy Achievement Medal. The awards represent all those who distinguished themselves by heroism, outstanding achievement or meritorious service following the ship’s collision with the merchant vessel Alnic MC Aug. 21, 2017.
One of McCain’s Ombudsmen, Lakela Granados was also honored for her actions providing counseling and support to the ship’s crew and families following the collision.
The collision claimed the lives of ten John S. McCain Sailors, and the crew fought back against progressive flooding across numerous spaces for hours on end. Facing constant peril from flooding, electrocution, structural damage and noxious fumes, these Sailors prevented further loss of life and ultimately saved the ship.
The list of personnel receiving awards is as follows:
Navy and Marine Corps Medal
Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal
Navy Achievement Medal
Superior Public Service Award