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Fallen sentry to receive rare heroism medal

Apr. 23, 2014 - 06:00AM   |  
Mark A. Mayo
The family of Master at Arms 2nd Class Mark A. Mayo will receive one of the Navy's highest distinctions on Friday for Mayo's heroism in for protecting his shipmates during the March 24 shooting at Naval Station Norfolk. (Navy / AP)
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A sailor credited with saving the lives of watchstanders on board the destroyer Mahan in March will be posthumously awarded one of the Navy’s highest honors.

The Navy will award Master-at-Arms 2nd Class Mark Mayo the Navy and Marine Corps Medal at a ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery, where Mayo will be buried Friday, Naval Station Norfolk, Va., said in a Wednesday news release.

Adm. Mark Ferguson, the Navy’s No. 2 officer, will present the award to Mayo’s family prior to the burial.

Mayo, 24, was shot and killed March 24 by a civilian intruder who disarmed the Mahan’s petty officer of the watch. Mayo was shot four times by Jeffrey Savage after placing himself between the sailor and Savage in order to protect the disarmed watchstander.

The Navy and Marine Corps Medal is commonly known as the non-combat Medal of Honor. Previous recipients include President John F. Kennedy, for his actions after the sinking of PT-109, and James E. Williams, the most decorated enlisted sailor in history.

Military decorations expert Doug Sterner said the medal is among the rarest given by the Navy. Sterner estimates that it has only been awarded between 5,000 and 10,000 times, though an exact number is difficult to pin down.

Mayo, a native of Hagerstown, Md., served seven years in the Navy. The Navy held a memorial service at Naval Station Norfolk on April 7, which was attended by his command, as well as sailors and officers from the Mahan.

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