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Two Marines Received Top Non-Combat Honor for Life-Saving Heroism

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Two Camp Pendleton Marines received the highest non-combat decoration awarded for heroism by the U.S Navy – the Navy & Marine Corps Medal.

Marines, Honor
Marine Corps Sgt. Michael Vura (left) and Marine Corps Cpl. Austin Cox, Marine Light Attack Helicopter Training Squadron 303 helicopter mechanics, assisted in victim evacuation and casualty care following the mass casualty attack in Las Vegas, Nevada, Oct. 1, 2017,/ DAVID BICKEL/U.S. MARINE CORPS

It was awarded to them for their bravery and life-saving heroism that they exhibited during the Route 91 Harvest Festival in October 2017.

The Honor and Its Recipients

On Monday, Sgt. Austin Cox, 26, and Sgt. Michael Vura, 26, were awarded “Navy and Marine Corps Medals for exceptional bravery and selfless actions in saving lives and preventing serious bodily harm of others around them.” Their awards were signed by Marine Corps Commandant Robert B. Neller for President Donald J. Trump.

Marines, Honor
Navy and Marine Corps Medal recipients Sgt. Michael Vura, center left, and Sgt. Austin Cox, center right, pose with family members of the victims of the Route 91 Harvest Music Festival shooting following an awards ceremony at Marine Corps Air Station Camp Pendleton, April 29, 2019/JULIAN ELLIOTT-DROUIN/U.S. MARINE CORPS

Maj. Gen. Kevin M. Iiams, commanding general of the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, commented that the two earned something that day.

Marines, Honor
Marines – former Sgt. Michael Vura (left) and Sgt. Austin Cox, – face other Marines after receiving the Navy and Marine Corps Medal at Camp Pendleton on Monday, Apr 29, 2019. The pair earned the award for, “selfless service in helping victims escape to safety following the Las Vegas shooting on Oct. 1, 2017. (Photo by Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register/SCNG)

“They didn’t win anything here, they earned something. They earned the highest honor for heroism that our nation will give out outside combat operations. That’s no small thing. As the group commander reminded me, there’s a couple of folks who won this award — John F. Kennedy, yeah. So, not a small thing, they have earned this award.”

Route 91 Tragedy and the Heroic Marines

Cox and Vura are both Marine Light Attack Helicopter Training Squadron 303 helicopter mechanics. They were both attending the show, at which Jason Aldean was performing on stage before the attack began. When the shooter began firing, Cox and Vura immediately sprang into action. They ran toward the festival barricades and helped people climb over. They also helped victims who have been shot and carrying the wounded to safety.

Both of them broke apart barricades and used the rails as a makeshift gurney to carry out more wounded to the area where cars and ambulances were arriving. The two split up to reach more people.

Marines, Honor
Former Sgt. Michael Vura wears the Navy and Marine Corps Medal at Camp Pendleton on Monday, Apr 29, 2019. Vura and Sgt. Austin Cox earned the award for, “selfless service in helping victims escape to safety following the Las Vegas shooting on Oct. 1, 2017. (Photo by Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register/SCNG)

According to an article in the Orange County Register, albeit both men are honored to get the award, they never expected to receive it in the first place.

Cox said that helping is already second nature to them.

“You don’t expect to get anything from helping people. It’s what you do overseas or at home. You do what you can no matter if anyone is looking.”

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