Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus visited Naval Special Warfare Command, Coronado, Calif., Feb. 11, for the first time since taking office in June 2009.
During his visit to NSW headquarters, Mabus presented three Silver Stars, the nation’s fourth highest military award, to recognize the actions of Senior Chief Petty Officer (SEAL) Jared Tuxill, Chief Petty Officer Gerardo Sosa and Chief Petty Officer (SEAL) Joseph Molina, while they were deployed to Afghanistan in direct support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
Three Bronze Stars, each with a combat distinguishing device, were also awarded to Molina, Lt. Cmdr. John Green and Chief Petty Officer (SEAL) Thomas Shea for their actions while deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
"The awards that I presented today recognize uncommon heroism and uncommon valor," Mabus said. "It shows the skill level, the dedication and the patriotism, and its one of the best things I get to do - to recognize the people for what they do for us."
While the awardees were acknowledged for their courageousness and nerve in combat, they were both humbled and honored to receive their awards directly from the SECNAV.
"It's an honor to have the secretary of the Navy award me the Silver Star," said Sosa. "I'm sure he has a lot on his plate; for him to make the time to be here today means a lot. It's a reflection of all the hard work everybody in our community has accomplished."
Mabus also took time to observe the training of Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL candidates, toured the medical and rehabilitation facilities, and spoke to BUD/S Class 287.
"You have an interesting seven weeks coming up, and your country needs you to finish that seven weeks," Mabus said. "You are the most in demand specialty that we have got. I want to wish you good luck, but finish what you started. I want to see you in the fleet."
The SECNAV continued his tour by visiting Naval Special Warfare Group 1, and the Mission Support Center. The afternoon's banner event was at an all-hands call where Mabus addressed NSW Sailors and their families about their contributions to the ongoing war.
"Most Americans know about some of the kinetic activity that you do, but most don't realize is the scope of training that you get, how many different missions you guys can perform," Mabus said. "They also don't realize what your operation tempo is. They don't realize how many times you deploy and how many times that you come home, that you don't get to spend the whole time with your families. To spend as much time as you do away from your family, from the people that you love, thank you for your sacrifice. It cannot be easy, but it is incredibly valuable to this country."
After the visit, Mabus remarked on how informative and great it was for him to visit with the community.
"You get such a feeling of what it takes to wear the trident," said Mabus. "You get to see what it takes to become a special warfare operator and just how well trained they are and how they never lose that."