2 Replies Latest reply on May 13, 2021 9:02 AM by James King

    Where do I start review for a commendation for my father?

    James King Newbie

      My father served in the Navy at Guantanamo Bay in 1961-62.  Like most men of his generation, he has been quiet about his service, but I was recently able to get him to open up.  He told me how after ending a midnight shift, he finished a shower, and then found a sailor in the middle of a suicide attempt there in the latrine.  He called for another sailor to go get help, and then used his own towel to bind the man's wrists.  Naked, wet, and bloody, he held him tight until the medics arrived.  The sailor survived.  He was later called out in front of his unit and verbally recognized for saving this sailor's life.  The station commander, Captain Weber also commended him personally, but in private.


      At the time, the Navy did not have a policy for granting formal commendations or awards for sailors who prevented a suicide.  The suicide attempt itself was not something it wanted publicized.  In recent years, with a long overdue focus on suicide prevention, more service members are being  formally commended for decisive, life saving actions like this.  I also frequently see stories of veterans being awarded for their actions decades later.  It's been 60 years, but it would mean the world to me if I could help him to be recognized.  I am imagining the citation, "with reckless disregard for his personal dignity, he removed his towel..."


      I can provide a few more details, but I don't want to post my father's name here, yet, unless there is a chance that something could actually come if it.  I don't know that I could get the exact date from him, either, but it was sometime in 1961.  Is there an office I can contact to start some research or a formal review of this incident?

        • Re: Where do I start review for a commendation for my father?
          Eric Kilgore Adventurer

          Dear James King,


          Thank you for posting your question to History Hub!


          The best place to start would be to contact the Navy's Council of Review Boards.  More information can be found here:  https://www.secnav.navy.mil/mra/CORB/Pages/default.aspx .  Normally, inquiries about awards and decorations would be directed to the National Personnel Record Center.  However, they only have the power to issue /reissue decorations that were previously awarded.  Since you're seeking a new decoration, you'll need to contact the Navy Department Board of Decorations and Medals (NDBDM).  Their information can be found in the link above.  If you would like to request your father's current awards and decorations, you can do so using the EvetRecs portal here: https://www.archives.gov/veterans/military-service-records


          Under normal circumstances, requesting awards and decorations is a pretty easy task.  However, due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, and our limited workforce, we are prioritizing requests from veterans and their families for medical emergencies, final military honors, and other essential benefits.  Currently, there is a substantial backlog of routine requests, in addition to the emergency requests awaiting response.  While it is still unknown how soon we will able to resume responding to routine requests,  the National Personnel Record Center is working hard and taking an aggressive approach to decreasing response times and eliminating the backlog. 


          While you are able to submit a request through the EvetRecs portal,  please understand, that your request will be placed into a queue for non-emergency requests until such time as we are able to process it.


          We hope this is helpful. Best of luck with your research!


          Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and pursuant to guidance received from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), NARA has adjusted its normal operations to balance the need of completing its mission-critical work while also adhering to the recommended social distancing for the safety of NARA staff. As a result of this re-prioritization of activities, you may experience a delay in receiving an initial acknowledgement as well as a substantive response to your reference request from RRPO (The National Archives at St. Louis). We apologize for this inconvenience and appreciate your understanding and patience.

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