A petition to award Master-at-Arms 2nd Class Mark Mayo the Medal of Honor has appeared on the White House’s website, but a leading expert in military decorations says that’s not in the cards.
Navy officials say Mayo was gunned down the night of March 24 while attempting to protect quarterdeck watch standers on the destroyer Mahan, after a man identified as 35-year-old truck driver Jeffrey Savage, an ex-convict, gained access to the pier and disarmed the ship’s petty officer of the watch.
“He doesn’t qualify for the Medal of Honor because it wasn’t in combat,” said Doug Sterner, a Vietnam veteran who manages the Military Times’ Hall of Valor awards database. “But what this sounds like is a Navy and Marine Corps Medal.”
If the early accounts of Mayo’s actions bear out in the investigation, his actions would rate one of the rarest of all military decorations, Sterner said.
“It’s no small honor,” he said. “It’s what’s known as the non-combat Medal of Honor.”
Sterner said the Navy and Marine Corps Medal has only been awarded between 5,000 and 10,000 times since its creation in 1942.
In order of precedence, the medal ranks below the Silver Star and Distinguished Flying Cross, but above the Bronze Star, Purple Heart and Meritorious Service Medal.
Notable recipients of the award include President John F. Kennedy for his actions to save his crew on PT-109, and James E. Williams, the most decorated enlisted sailor in history.