3 sailors killed in NAS Pensacola shooting will receive Purple Hearts

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The three sailors who were killed during last year’s shooting at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida, will be posthumously awarded Purple Hearts, a Navy official confirmed.

On Dec. 6, Ensign Joshua Kaleb Watson, Petty Officer 3 Class Mohammed Sameh Haitham, and Petty Officer 3 Class Cameron Scott Walters were killed by a Saudi military officer who participating in flight training at the base.

“When confronted, they didn't run from danger; they ran towards it and saved lives,” Navy Capt. Tim Kinsella, NAS Pensacola’s commanding officer, said on Dec. 7. “If not for their actions, and the actions of the Naval Security Force that were the first responders on the scene, this incident could have been far worse.”

Eight other people were wounded in the shooting, which Attorney General William Barr later described as a terrorist attack.

Each sailor’s family will receive the Purple Hearts at private ceremonies that will be scheduled later, said James Stockman, a spokesman for Naval Education & Training Command.

Watson, Haitham, and Walters were already posthumously awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Medal and the Good Conduct Medal at their Dec. 19 memorial service, Stockman told Task & Purpose.

Top Navy officials will present a variety of awards 34 other service members and civilians who were at Pensacola during the shooting, Stockman said.

Those awards include the Purple Heart, Secretary of Defense Medal for Valor, Secretary of Defense Medal for the Defense of Freedom, Navy Distinguished Public Service Award, Navy and Marine Corps Medal, Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal, and Life Saving Award.

That ceremony had been scheduled for March 16 but it has been postponed due to concerns about the coronavirus outbreak, Navy officials said.