Sasebo, JAPAN – Two Sailors assigned to USS Warrior (MCM 10) were presented the Navy and Marine Corps Medal for Heroism during an all-hands call on the pier, April 23.
Damage Controlman 2nd Class (SW) Jean Isidore, from Brooklyn, New York, and Mineman 3rd Class (SW) Matthew Pekarcik , from Valley Springs, California, were presented the highest non-combat decoration awarded to members of the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps who distinguish themselves by heroism for acts of lifesaving, or attempted lifesaving, at the risk of one's own life.
"The selfless actions of these Sailors add to the heroic legacy of the men and women throughout the fleet, making our Navy the greatest the world has ever seen", said Lt. Cmdr. Kevin S. McCormick, Warrior's commanding officer.
Isidore and Pekarcik received the Navy and Marine Corps Medal for heroism while serving aboard USS Guardian (MCM 5) in January 2013 after the ship ran aground on the Tubbataha Reef in the Republic of the Philippines.
In the early morning of Jan. 18, after approximately 24 hours of efforts by ship's force to keep Guardian afloat, the seams beneath the number one air conditioning unit in auxiliary machinery room worked apart, causing sea water to flood the bilge at a rate of five gallons per a minute.
"When the flooding occurred, I was part of the damage control party ordered to apply shoring to the breached hull,” said Isidore. “And I have to be honest, seeing guys with families and wives jump into the bilge gave me the extra boost to keep pushing, knowing that I may lose my life at any moment.”
The shoring was required in order to reduce the flow of water and prevent loss of electrical power to the ship.
The two Sailors entered the bilge without hesitation and made their way through restrictive piping to erect metal shoring under the air conditioning unit. In doing so, they delayed the loss of the ship. "Overall, this was a total crew effort and the most important thing is that no one died,” said Pekarcik. “That is something I will cherish for the rest of my life.”
Warrior is an Avenger-class mine countermeasures ship forward deployed to Sasebo, Japan. Warrior reports to Commander, Amphibious Force Seventh Fleet Rear Adm. Hugh D. Wetherald, who is headquartered in Okinawa, Japan.