Memorial Day: Not just for the war dead

Memorial Day is most often thought of in terms of war. But not all who are remembered on this day were lost in war or on foreign soil. Master at Arms Second Class Mark Mayo stood between a gunman and the petty officer of the watch (POOW) in March on board the USS Mahan, a guided missile destroyer in port at Naval Station Norfolk. The gunman had made his way up the brow and disarmed the POOW. Mayo was fatally wounded though saving the four watch standers. The gunman was shot and killed by security personnel. Mayo was awarded the Naval and Marine Corps Medal for his valor.

Having stood POOW on a number of occasions during my sea duty — a .45 on my hip — I often think of the awesome responsibility that I had during those younger days and how glad I was that I was not required to bear the burden of engagement.

Petty Officer Mayo fought no war, yet he exceeded any duty required of such a young man. We ask so much of our young, but little do we know how much it is that we ask.


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