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

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.”

Pictured left to right: Pedro Pascal ("Catfish"), Garrett Hedlund ("Ben"), Charlie Hunnam ("Ironhead"), and Ben Affleck ("Redfly") Photo Courtesy of Netflix

A new trailer for Netflix's Triple Frontier dropped last week, and it looks like a gritty mash-up of post-9/11 war dramas Zero Dark Thirty and Hurt Locker and crime thrillers Narcos and The Town.

Read More Show Less
Army Sgt. Daniel Cowart gets a hug from then-Dallas Cowboys defensive end Chris Canty. Photo: Department of Defense

The Distinguished Service Cross was made for guys like Sgt. Daniel Cowart, who literally tackled and "engaged...in hand to hand combat" a man wearing a suicide vest while he was on patrol in Iraq.

So it's no wonder he's having his Silver Star upgraded to the second-highest military award.

Read More Show Less
A small unmanned aerial vehicle built by service academy cadets is shown here flying above ground. This type of small UAV was used by cadets and midshipmen from the U.S. Air Force Academy, the U.S. Military Academy and the U.S. Naval Academy, during a Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency-sponsored competition at Camp Roberts, California, April 23-25, 2017. During the competition, cadets and midshipmen controlled small UAVs in "swarm" formations to guard territory on the ground at Camp Roberts. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Drones have been used in conflicts across the globe and will play an even more important role in the future of warfare. But, the future of drones in combat will be different than what we have seen before.

The U.S. military can set itself apart from others by embracing autonomous drone warfare through swarming — attacking an enemy from multiple directions through dispersed and pulsing attacks. There is already work being done in this area: The U.S. military tested its own drone swarm in 2017, and the UK announced this week it would fund research into drone swarms that could potentially overwhelm enemy air defenses.

I propose we look to the amoeba, a single-celled organism, as a model for autonomous drones in swarm warfare. If we were to use the amoeba as this model, then we could mimic how the organism propels itself by changing the structure of its body with the purpose of swarming and destroying an enemy.

Read More Show Less
Soldiers from 4th Squadron, 9th U.S. Cavalry Regiment "Dark Horse," 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, are escorted by observer controllers from the U.S. Army Operational Test Command after completing field testing of the Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicle (AMPV) Sept. 24, 2018. (U.S. Army/Maj. Carson Petry)

The Army has awarded a $575 million contract to BAE Systems for the initial production of its replacement for the M113 armored personnel carriers the service has been rocking downrange since the Vietnam War.

Read More Show Less

President Donald Trump has formally outlined how his administration plans to stand up the Space Force as the sixth U.S. military service – if Congress approves.

On Tuesday, Trump signed a directive that calls for the Defense Department to submit a proposal to Congress that would make Space Force fall under Department of the Air Force, a senior administration official said.

Read More Show Less