Quantico Marines Recognized for Efforts During Navy Yard Shooting

Quantico Marines Recognized for Efforts During Navy Yard Shooting

Col David Maxwell, commander at Marine Corps Base Quantico, stands at attention in front of PFC Thomas Caldwell, motor transport operator at the Transportation Branch, on July 30, 2014, in the motor pool parking lot. Maxwell presented a letter of commendation, awarded by the Secretary of the Navy, Ray Mabus, to Caldwell for his support in the successful airlift of 1,000 Meals Ready to Eat to the Washington Navy Yard during the shooting incident last September. MSgt Josue Santoyo, operations chief at Marine Corps Base Quantico, was also honored in separate ceremony. Photo by Ameesha Felton.

MARINE CORPS BASE QUANTICO, Va. (Aug. 14, 2014) - Two Marines aboard Marine Corps Base Quantico received letters of commendation from Secretary of the Navy, Ray Mabus, for their efforts in the speedy delivery of 1,000 Meals Ready to Eat during the active shooter incident at the Washington Navy Yard last year.

A former Navy service member launched the attack the morning of Sept. 13, 2013, shooting and killing 13 people, making it deadliest shooting at a U.S.-based military installation since the 2009 Fort Hood incident in Texas.

As emergency vehicles and law enforcement officers swarmed streets around the Washington, D.C., complex that morning, many of the buildings were locked down for hours. With no means of getting food to hundreds of employees because of security and urgency, a call was made to Quantico's base for help.

MSgt Josue Santoyo, Marine Corps Base Quantico' operations chief, and PFC Thomas Caldwell, motor transport operator, Transportation Branch, performances were critical in the sustainment morale and well-being of personnel adversely affected by the active shooter incident.

"We got a call that morning saying they'll possibly need MREs, depending on how long they're going to be on lockdown," Santoyo said. "At that point, I started coordinating with different organizations on base, identifying who had 1,000 MREs and tasking them with what we need. Soon after, we got another call with the official tasker and that's when we moved into action gathering all drivers and the working party to load the MREs and deliver to [Marine Corps Air Facility Quantico]."

Despite not having all of the exact details, Santoyo moved proactively with intense immediacy. For the combat-tested Marine, who formerly served as Golf Companny gunnny, 2nd battalion, 8th Marines in Iraq and Afghanistan, readiness is normal protocol.

"In combat, my job was to make sure the Marines have everything they needed to survive, from gear to ammunition and food," Santoyo said. "So, it was just a regular day for us, not really special, just what we're trained to do every day."

In addition logistics, Caldwell's expeditious performance in transporting the MREs to the flight-line for helicopters to pick up was also key in the mission's success.

"One of the sergeants said they needed a driver immediately, so I just volunteered," Caldwell said. "I just knew there was an active shooter; I didn't know what was going on. I just kept thinking of the families, victims and military personnel. That always hits home to every military member."

Col David Maxwell, commander at Marine Corps Base Quantico, personally presented the award to Caldwell on July 30, while also thanking base Motor-T for their performance throughout the year.

"This means a lot to me," Caldwell. "I didn't even know I was going to get [recognized], so for not just me, but for the whole shop to be recognized, that's awesome. You can't ask for much more than that."

Santoyo hopes this experience will serve as a reminder for Marines that no task is ever too small or insignificant.

"That just goes to prove that, for Marines, the [seemingly] little things that they do are always part of a larger picture of accomplishing a mission," Santoyo said.

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