Act of Heroism by MA2 Mark A. Mayo Saves Lives at Naval Station

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There is no easy way to start this story well. There never is. In late March 2014, a civilian who had transport worker’s credentials, drove a semi-truck onto Naval Station Norfolk, the largest Navy base in the country, with no known business for being there. Tragically, we now know that his intentions were to do harm. When he had gotten onto the base, he ditched the truck and somehow made his way aboard the destroyer USS Mahan (DDG72). He approached the quarter deck where he disarmed a petty officer on duty there. That’s when things went bad.

“He rushed to the aid of people he did not know, with cool courage and presence of mind… faced evil head on and protected his shipmates with no concern for his own safety. There can be no higher type of sailor — no better shipmate.”

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No Higher Type of Sailor

The petty officer, who was chief of the guard that evening, Master-at-Arms 2nd Class, Mark A. Mayo, 24, responded to the scene. At that time several rounds were fired by the gunmen and other naval security people. During this exchange of gunfire, MA2 Mayo saved another petty officer’s life by stepping between him and the gunman. The gunman was killed. Tragically, Mayo also died of his wounds aboard the Mahan that evening.

The sadness that we all feel about this loss is softened a little by the knowledge that petty officer Mayo died so that others might live. He was Shore Patrol. It was his job to protect and defend his fellow Sailors on board the Mahan. No one expects things like this to happen, but the true character of an individual is often revealed in circumstances like this. In his actions that Monday evening aboard his own ship, MA2 Mayo showed that he had the character of a selfless and truly courageous man. His mother put it succinctly: “Mark was a gentleman. He was raised to treat people good and to work hard. Mark did die a hero. He gave his life for his fellow man.”

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By the Bootstraps

Mark A. Mayo was born in Washington, D.C., but his family moved to Hagerstown, MD in the late 1990s. He graduated from Williamsport High School in 2007. He had been a wrestling champion while there and was an above average student according to his guidance counselor, Randy Longnecker. Longnecker, in a statement, seems to support Mayo’s mother’s comments about Mark’s character, said: “He pulled himself up by his bootstraps. He worked hard.”

We are saddened by the terrible loss of such an obviously good person and a Sailor of great character and worth. That such things happen is a mystery to us. But the selfless heroism that MA2 Mayo demonstrated that evening aboard the Mahan, makes us proud of him and the way he was raised. We honor his commitment to duty and to his fellow Sailors. We thank him for his nobility in the face of death. We also offer our condolences and prayers to his family, to his shipmates, and to the entire Naval Station Norfolk community.

Petty Officer 2nd Class Mark A. Mayo was buried with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery. Rest in peace good Sailor. Rest in Peace.

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Dan Doyle is a husband, father, grandfather, Vietnam veteran, and retired professor of Humanities at Seattle University. He taught 13 years at the high school level and 22 years at the university level. He spends his time now babysitting his granddaughter. He is a poet and a blogger as well. Dan holds an AA degree in English Literature, a BA in Comparative Literature, and an MA in Theology, and writes regularly for The Veterans Site blog.