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Naval Air Station Jacksonville Sailor Earns Top Medal for Heroism

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The commander of Navy Region Southeast presented a chief the Navy and Marine Corps Medal for heroism during a ceremony Jan. 3.

Chief Gas Turbine System Technician (Electrical) (SW) Bryain Williams of Transient Personnel Unit/Pre-Trial Confinement Facility (TPU/PCF) Jacksonville received the prestigious presidential award from Rear Adm. Jack Scorby Jr. Williams for rescuing 4-month-old Jimmy Knight from a burning house May 11, 2010 in Jacksonville, Fla.

Williams spoke about those intense minutes as he risked his life to save the young child.

"My family and I had gone to the home to look at a dog we were considering adopting. After meeting the dog and his owner, Melinda Knight, we had decided we wanted him. We put him in the car and were leaving when Melinda came running out screaming her house was on fire and she couldn't find her baby in all the smoke," said Williams.

"I ran into the smoke-filled house and located Jimmy in his playpen. I picked him up and found my way back out the front door, handing the infant to my wife. Then I heard Melinda yelling at the back door and went to help. During the confusion, I didn't tell her that I had rescued her son and assumed she had another child inside," he continued. "So I tried to get in the back door but the flames were too intense. After a few minutes, everyone realized no one else was in the house and the baby was safe."

As Scorby presented the award in front of Williams' and Knight's family members and Sailors from his command, he stated, "It's an absolute honor and privilege for me to be here today and present this award. You don't see this award given very often. The only time I've seen this award presented was after 9-11 for some of the rescues at the Pentagon. Chief, I can't say how much admiration and respect I have for what you did by putting your life on the line to save another human being."

After receiving the award, Williams said, "I'm thrilled to be given this award. I just went to Jimmy's third birthday party the other day and am just so happy that he is still here to celebrate it."

"Bryain definitely deserves this award. If it wasn't for him saving my son, he probably would not be here today. Our families have become close and we spend time together. We've been there for one another through some hardships - Bryain's wife, Cathy passed away and although I didn't know her long, she was very special to me. And, Jimmy knows that this is the man who saved his life," said Knight.

Article by Kaylee LaRocque, Naval Air Station Jacksonville Public Affairs