Two Camp Pendleton Marines received the highest non-combat decoration awarded for heroism by the U.S Navy – the Navy & Marine Corps Medal.
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.
Maj. Gen. Kevin M. Iiams, commanding general of the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, commented that the two earned something that day.
“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.
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.”