50 Sailors from USS John S. McCain Honored for Actions During 2017 Collision

July 10, 2019 6:10 PM
Admiral John Aquilino, left, Commander of U.S. Pacific Fleet, and Vice Admiral Phillip Sawyer, right, Commander of U.S. 7th Fleet, pose for a photo with award recipients on of the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain (DDG 56) during an awards ceremony, July 10, 2019, at Commander, Fleet Activities Yokosuka, Japan. US Navy photo.

The Navy honored 50 sailors today for their efforts to save lives and save the ship after USS John S. McCain (DDG-56) collided with a merchant ship two years ago.

Ten sailors died in the Aug. 21, 2017, collision near the Strait of Malacca. Navy leadership deemed that the 50 sailors who are being honored for their bravery helped prevent further loss of life or damage to the ship.

“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,” according to a Navy release.

Seven of the sailors were present during a ceremony today aboard McCain in Yokosuka, Japan.

“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,” Adm. John Aquilino, U.S. Pacific Fleet commander, said during the ceremony, according to the news release.
“It also helps remind the next generation of sailors the moral character, personal sacrifice, and selfless commitment required to not give up the ship.”

“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,” Cmdr. Ryan Easterday, McCain commanding officer, said during the ceremony.
“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.”

Seven McCain sailors were awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Medal, 15 were awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal, and 28 received the Navy Achievement Medal. One of McCain’s Ombudsmen, Lakela Granados, was also honored for her actions following the collision, providing counseling and support to the ship’s crew and families.

According to a Navy instruction, the Navy and Marine Corps Medal – the highest medal awarded for heroism in non-combat situations – is “awarded to individuals who, while serving in any capacity with the U.S. Navy or the U.S. Marine Corps, distinguish themselves by heroism not involving actual conflict with the enemy. For acts of lifesaving, or attempted lifesaving, it is required that the action be performed at the risk of one’s own life.”

The Navy instruction adds that the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation medal is “awarded to individuals (including foreign military personnel) who, while serving in any capacity with the U.S. Navy or Marine Corps, distinguish themselves on or after 7 December 1941, by heroic or meritorious achievement or service. To merit this award, the acts or services must be accomplished or performed in a manner above that normally expected, and sufficient to distinguish the individual above those performing similar services.”

For the Navy Achievement Medal, “the award may be authorized for meritorious service or achievement in a combat or non-combat situation, based on sustained performance or specific achievement of a superlative nature.”

Admiral John Aquilino, Commander of U.S. Pacific Fleet, speaks to the crew of the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destoyer USS John S. McCain (DDG 56) during an awards ceremony, July 10, 2019 at Commander, Fleet Activities Yokosuka, Japan. US Navy photo.

Aquilino and U.S. 7th Fleet Commander Vice Adm. Phil Sawyer awarded seven sailors their medals in person at the ceremony. Sawyer conducted a similar ceremony in October 2017, honoring 36 sailors from USS Fitzgerald (DDG-62) for bravery and heroism when that ship had its own collision with a merchant ship just two months before the McCain collision.

The full list of McCain sailors who were honored today is:

Navy and Marine Corps Medal

  • LT Aaron Van Driessche
  • CWO3 Michael Calhoun
  • DC1 Justin Ramirez
  • DC1 Michael Cooper
  • GSM1 Delando Beckford
  • OS3 Malachi Shannon
  • SH2 Mark Williams

Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal

  • LT Michael Shofner
  • LTJG Kathryn Hussey
  • LTJG Meghan Meriano
  • CWO2 Joshua Patat
  • GSCS Bryan Hayes
  • DCC Anthony Ebarb
  • DC1 Hosey Brooks
  • HM1 Alan Aaron
  • HM2 Justin Lam
  • HT2 Darwin Dunlap
  • MM1 Nicholas Healy
  • GSM2 Jonathan Spence
  • MM2 Joseph Ligon
  • DC3 Harley Peterson
  • ET2 Royce Black

Navy Achievement Medal

  • LTJG Glory Armentrout
  • LTJG Jordan Snitzer
  • LTJG Madelyn Ryden
  • LTJG Thomas Foster
  • ENS Daniel Coley
  • ENS James Brisotti
  • CSCS Donnel Robinson
  • PSC Philip Torio
  • CS1 Christopher Plowden
  • GSM1 Mark Winter, Jr.
  • MR1 John Ray, III
  • NC1 Menh Luc
  • DC2 Anthony Dana
  • EM2 Ethan Golston
  • EN2 Edwin Loredo
  • GSE2 Thomas Neff
  • GSM2 Yong Gao
  • HT2 Laurin Bynoe
  • MM2 Jorge Rivera
  • PS2 Jerrell Dean
  • BM3 Tevin Vassel
  • DC3 Christopher Christensen
  • DC3 Jeremy Snyder
  • EM3 Alejandro Alemanayala
  • GSE3 Steven Osenbruk
  • GSM3 Ivan Cruz
  • MM3 Elijah Swantkoski
  • EMFN Lashawn Kellom, Jr.

Superior Public Service Award

  • Lakela Granados
  • Kathleen Hoar
Megan Eckstein

Megan Eckstein

Megan Eckstein is the former deputy editor for USNI News.

Get USNI News updates delivered to your inbox