Tuesday, May 06, 2008

You Are What You Do When It Counts

On November 7, 2007, Hospitalman Joshua Flagg saved the lives of two civilians injured in an IED attack while serving in Iraq. In recognition of this, Hospitalman Flagg recieved the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, more commonly known as the NAM.

I have two NAMs. While I won't tell you what I got the second one for, the first one isn't for anything complicated. My division officer, while performing a routine review of maintenance paperwork, realized he saw my name down for doing an awful lot of work. Looking deeper, he realized that, despite being in a division of 7 men, I was at least partially involved in over half the maintenance. Also, I didn't screw it up, not even a bit. This is a big deal in Reactor Controls Division.

Hospitalman Joshua Flagg and his CO (picture by Michael Totten)

Hospitalman Flagg ran towards an IED attack. When he arrived, ignoring any risk to his own life, he immediately began providing medical care. For all he knew, he could have been treating the terrorists themselves.

I consistently used all the proper electrical safety precautions when performing work on energized equipment with exposed voltages greater than 30VDC, despite the ill fit of the rubber gloves and the general shabbiness of the rubber matting.

Jewcano as a Petty Officer, and his CO

Hospitalman Flagg used his medical skills to stabilize two dying patients, ensuring that they could live and celebrate another day with their families.

I used my troubleshooting skills to ensure that thoroughly outdated electronic equipment reliably guaranteed the safety of a submarine nuclear reactor, ensuring that my boat could put to sea and fight pirates, jellyfish, and Godzilla.

Hospitalman Flagg earned the respect and trust of wary Iraqis by putting his life in harms way to save their own.

I earned the respect and trust of my superiors and shipmates by using "V", "VOLTS" and "VDC" exactly as the paperwork required, saving them from getting racked out to recopy the forms.

The NAM is a curious medal. There are lower medals, but those are the ones you get for continuing to breathe in a specific place or for a specific time, usually without getting in serious trouble. The NAM is the lowest award you can get for doing something of worth that actually gives you something to pin to your chest to impress Mama and the ladies. It is also the only medal that one's Commanding Officer can issue without permission from higher-ups. For this reason, it is often issued when the command feels the action would not be deemed worthy for recognition by outside persons. I would hope no one would ever put Hospitalman Flagg into that category.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

First time reader. Good post. For those of us who do not serve in the volunteer world, it sounds like you deserved your recognition. It is equally apparent that Hospitalman Flagg deserves the medal he received and the clear respect and admiration you show him by bringing him to my attention.