Statement by U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD):
Mr. President, I rise today to speak about the tragic death of a fellow Marylander, Master-At-Arms Second Class Mark Mayo. His heroic sacrifice is the truest display of the U.S. Navy’s Core Values of Honor, Courage, and Commitment. The United States Navy confirmed yesterday that Petty Officer Mayo put himself in harm’s way to save his shipmate. On behalf of a grateful Nation and my fellow Senators, I offer my sincerest condolences to the family, friends, and shipmates of Petty Officer Mayo.
The tragic events this past Monday evening are still under investigation by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service but what we know so far is that at approximately 11:20 PM there was a shooting on board the destroyer Mahan.
A civilian who was behaving erratically approached the Mahan's quarterdeck and was confronted by the ship's petty officer of the watch. The two engaged in a struggle and the civilian was able to disarm the sailor. Petty Officer Mayo, serving as the chief-of-the-guard, witnessed the fight and ran to the quarterdeck and placed himself between the civilian and his shipmate, the petty officer of the watch. The civilian opened fire and fatally wounded Petty Officer Mayo.
U.S. Navy Captain Robert Clark, Norfolk Naval Station's commanding officer, said "Petty Officer Mayo’s actions were nothing less than heroic; he selflessly gave his own life to ensure the safety of the sailors on board."
Petty Officer Mayo’s parents, Sharon Blair and Decondi Mayo, said their son’s actions reflected his strong, caring, nature. As his mother put it, "He protected people. He was a protector."
Petty Officer Mayo was born in Washington, D.C. and moved with his family to Hagerstown, Maryland in 1998. He enlisted in the Navy in October 2007, four months after graduating from Williamsport High School, where he was a Washington County wrestling champion, because he wanted to serve his country and because the Navy offers educational opportunities. He reported to Naval Station Norfolk in May 2011. Petty Officer Mayo’s mother, who is a geriatric nursing assistant, said he always wanted to work in law enforcement.
Randy Longnecker, Petty Officer Mayo’s former guidance counselor at Williamsport High School, recalled him as a kind and easygoing student who earned good grades. "He always wanted to make sure he was doing the right thing. He liked athletics and being part of a team. He must have fallen in love with the Navy."
Petty Officer Mayo served tours of duty in Rota, Spain and in Bahrain. He earned the Good Conduct Award, National Defense Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, and Navy Marine Corps Overseas Ribbon.
Americans are privileged and fortunate to have such brave and outstanding young men and women serving in our Armed Forces. We must never forget the sacrifices they and their families make on our behalf in defense of freedom. Petty Officer Mayo has made the ultimate sacrifice. While his death is tragic, we should remember and honor the way he lived and how he voluntarily chose to save a fellow sailor from harm. He is an American hero.