UNSUNG HEROES: The Combat-Decorated Marine Who Sprang Into Action When The Washington Navy Yard Was Attacked

Staff Sgt. Zachary Rubart, U.S. Marine Corps Silent Drill Platoon staff noncommissioned officer-in-charge, stands at ease during a ceremony at the Naval Academy at Annapolis, Md., May 19, 2014. The ceremony was held to honor the graduating class of 2014.
Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Dan Hosack

Shortly after 8 a.m. on Sept. 16, 2013, a lone gunman opened fire at the Washington Navy Yard taking 12 lives. Not far away, Marine Staff Sgt. Zachary Rubart was training at Marine Barracks Washington as the platoon sergeant for the Marine Corps’ famed Silent Drill Platoon, reported Marine Corps Times. Hearing reports of an active shooter, Rubart immediately sprang into action, forming a quick-reaction force from the ranks of his Marines to neutralize the potential threat.

Rubart has served three combat deployments, two in Fallujah, Iraq, where he earned a Purple Heart, and one in Afghanistan.

“Although wounded with a ‘priority’ medevac status, Sergeant Rubart instructed his section to cordon the blast site and search for a potential triggerman,” his Purple Heart citation reads, putting his dire needs out of the way to assure his unit was safe. He would rejoin his unit just 16 days later, his wounds still bandaged.

His combat experience, selflessness, and quick thinking was precisely what spurred him into action the day of the Washington Navy Yard shooting.

Assembling the Marines, Rubart led them to the armory with his ceremonial sword still attached to his him, writes Marine Corps Times. Armed with M4 carbines, Rubart’s small contingent of Marines linked up with D.C. SWAT at the Washington Navy Yard and began to clear buildings one-by-one. The shooter was killed by police, says the Guardian, however a search was still underway for at least one more man possibly involved in the shooting.

Now 31, Rubart is considered “a proven leader who can be trusted in high-stakes situations” says Marine Corps Times. Other than his service on duty in the Marine Corps he has a consistent record of community service.

He currently organizes opportunities for volunteers to mentor children of fallen troops for the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors, is known to serve veterans at the Armed Forces Retirement Home in Bethesda, Maryland, and he also gives his time and energy to provide for the homeless near his station at Marine Barracks Washington. When stationed out of Camp Geiger, North Carolina, Rubart served a local youth soccer league as a coach for more than 100 hours.

Rubart is known for his leadership on the clock as well, now the staff NCO for the Marines Corps security force at the White House Communications Agency in Washington, at Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling. The roughly 50 Marines who provide security and support to the presidential detail are under his supervision.

He has been vital in building the relationship between the Marines and the White House Communications Agency such that they are now indispensable, 1st Sgt. Michael Brown, Rubart’s senior enlisted supervisor told Marine Corps Times. Because of Rubart’s efforts to innovate the role of Marines, they are now utilized to assist with trips inside the continental U.S. as well as overseas, whereas before they were only needed overseas.

“He’s making it a necessity,” not just a nice-to-have, said Brown. “He’s making our place at the table a little bigger.”

For his exceptional service to the Marine Corps and his community, Rubart was honored as the Marine Corps Times Marine of the Year, this year.

Lauded as a hero by Military Times’ Managing Editor Tony Lombardo in an interview, Rubart replied with absolute humility. “I will gladly offer that I don’t think any of us are heroes,” Rubart said of the himself and the four other honored as servicemen of the year.

“For us, when you define heroism, it’s the four Marines and the sailor that were killed in Chattanooga,” Rubart went on, mentioning a recent shooting that claimed the lives of five servicemen.

“It’s the Marines, and soldiers, and airmen, and service members in general that have given their lives in support of the defense of this nation. This, this is a privilege. This is an honor.”

Army recruiters hold a swearing-in ceremony for over 40 of Arkansas' Future Soldiers at the Arkansas State Capital Building. (U.S. Army/Amber Osei)

Though the Army has yet to actually set an official recruiting goal for this year, leaders are confident they're going to bring in more soldiers than last year.

Maj. Gen. Frank Muth, head of Army Recruiting Command, told reporters on Wednesday that the Army was currently 2,226 contracts ahead of where it was in 2019.

"I will just tell you that this time last year we were in the red, and now we're in the green which is — the momentum's there and we see it continuing throughout the end of the year," Muth said, adding that the service hit recruiting numbers in February that haven't been hit during that month since 2014.

Read More
In this June 16, 2018 photo, Taliban fighters greet residents in the Surkhroad district of Nangarhar province, east of Kabul, Afghanistan, (AP Photo/Rahmat Gul)

KABUL/WASHINGTON/PESHAWAR, Pakistan (Reuters) - The United States and the Taliban will sign an agreement on Feb. 29 at the end of a week long period of violence reduction in Afghanistan, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and the Taliban said on Friday.

Read More
A screen grab from a YouTube video shows Marines being arrested during formation at Camp Pendleton in July, 2019. (Screen capture)

Editor's Note: This article by Gina Harkins originally appeared on Military.com, a leading source of news for the military and veteran community.

Another Marine was hit with jail time and a bad-conduct discharge in connection with a slew of arrests made last summer over suspicions that members of a California-based infantry battalion were transporting people who'd crossed into the U.S. illegally.

Read More
A soldier reunites with his daughter at Fort Bragg, N.C. after returning from the Middle East. The 82nd Airborne Division's Immediate Response Force had been deployed since New Years Eve. Thursday, Feb. 20, 2020. (U.S. Army via Associated Press)

Some Fort Bragg paratroopers who left for the Middle East on a no-notice deployment last month came home Thursday.

About 3,500 soldiers with the 82nd Airborne Division's 1st Brigade Combat Team were sent to Kuwait beginning Jan. 1 as tensions were rising in the region. The first soldiers were in the air within 18 hours of being told to go.

Read More
A developmental, early variant of the Common Unmanned Surface Vehicle (CUSV) autonomously conducts maneuvers on the Elizabeth River during its demonstration during Citadel Shield-Solid Curtain 2020 at Naval Station Norfolk on Feb. 12, 2020. (U.S. Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Rebekah M. Rinckey)

Large cargo ships, small fishing boats and other watercraft sail safely past Naval Station Norfolk every day, but there's always a possibility that terrorists could use any one of them to attack the world's largest naval base.

While Navy security keeps a close eye on every vessel that passes, there's an inherent risk for the sailors aboard small patrol boats who are tasked with helping keep aircraft carriers, submarines and destroyers on base safe from waterborne attacks.

So the Navy experimented Wednesday to test whether an unmanned vessel could stop a small boat threatening the base from the Elizabeth River.

Read More