Navy Awards Navy and Marine Corps Medal to Washington D.C. Sailor
Vice Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan W. Greenert awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Medal to a master-at-arms 3rd class during an award ceremony, Aug. 10, aboard Display Ship (DS) Barry at the Washington Navy Yard.
MA3 Quentin Benjamin earned the Navy's second-highest noncombat medal for his heroic actions July 19, 2010, while on leave in his hometown of Goose Creek, S.C.
More than a year ago, while Benjamin attended a family cookout, two young boys ran from a neighboring home screaming that their father was attempting to shoot their mother. Without hesitation, nor regard for his own life, Benjamin ran into the victim's home, pushed the father out of the way, grabbed the daughter and rushed her to safety. He then re-entered the home a second time, knowing the man had a gun, and rescued the mother as the father opened fire with a shotgun.
Benjamin recalled the adrenaline he felt that day and recapped his thoughts as he ran into the home. "When everything was happening the only thing that went through my head was to stay alive, honestly that is pretty much it."
As a result of his actions, Benjamin saved the lives of the mother and her daughter and remained unharmed. The gunman engaged local law enforcement as they arrived at the scene and wounded several officers, but was eventually apprehended.
Greenert thanked Benjamin for his bravery and courage and mentioned that the character he has begins at home. As he presented the award, Greenert also invited Benjamin's mother to help pin the medal.
Benjamin was thankful for the appreciation the Navy and his family has given him.
"I haven't grasped the situation personally but everybody else has, and just the fact that I am here being recognized is just amazing," said Benjamin.
"I think my family is happier than I am, they have been waiting for this ceremony for while," he continued. "The fact that they drove all the way from South Carolina and my mother was able to pin it on me; I know that they really appreciate it."
Since he was a child, Benjamin dreamed of becoming a firefighter and to serve his country. On February 23, 2009 he was able to reach one of those goals by joining the Navy, but when the field of Damage Controlman was not available, he thought becoming an MA was the next best option.
"I knew I was going into the military because that was in my blood line. Although, being a firefighter was my main goal, MA was the next best thing because either way you are helping people," said Benjamin.
Now that Benjamin's actions are in the spotlight he prefers to take a more humble approach to the significant recognition he is receiving.
"I don't look at myself as a hero; I am just an everyday person that is trying to do what's right," he expressed. "I don't think doing what's right should be the definition of a hero, but just to be considered and for everybody else to look at it that way is a great honor."
Article by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class (SW) Kiona Miller, Naval District Washington Public Affairs