FORT SAM HOUSTON, TX –
JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas (Oct. 20, 2022) – Hospital Corpsman William T. Ericson was awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Medal in recognition for acts of non-combat heroism during a ceremony recently at the Navy Medicine Training Support Center (NMTSC).
While off-duty hiking at the Cabrillo National Monument on May 2, 2021, Ericson observed an adrift vessel with more than 30 distressed passengers near the rocky shoreline. As the vessel was dashed against boulders in six-foot seas, multiple people abandoned the boat in the 60-degree water.
According to his award citation, Ericson decisively entered the high surf and pulled survivors to the shore and away from the vessel that had violently broken apart. Noticing more survivors swept out to sea by a rip current, he entered the rough swells once again and swam approximately 100 meters through water littered with diesel fuel and debris. He cut four actively drowning people free from subsurface entanglements, stabilized them, and pulled them out of the turbulent water onto a San Diego Fire Department Rescue Watercraft.
The Navy and Marine Corps Medal is the highest non-combat award for heroism awarded to members of the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps. It is awarded to service members who, while serving in any capacity in the Navy or Marine Corps, demonstrate an act of non-combat heroism while putting themselves in a life-threatening situation.
Because of his courageous and prompt actions in the face of great personal life-threatening risk, Ericson was awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Medal by the president, officially presented to him by Rear Adm. Cynthia A. Kuehner, commander of Naval Medical Forces Support Command, during a ceremony at NMTSC.
Kuehner took the opportunity to share Ericson’s actions with an audience of hospital corpsmen students and NMTSC, present for the Navy’s 247th birthday celebration. In presenting the award, she acknowledged and related the heroics of our Shipmate to this year’s birthday theme: “On Watch – 24/7 for 247 Years.” According to Kuehner, Ericson’s heroism, while off-duty, serves as a modern exemplar for the universal pride in our Navy’s history and heritage to all.
“I am humbled to be in the presence of this Sailor, who joins the ranks of hospital corpsmen before him and other Navy and Marine Corps Medal recipients, including President John F. Kennedy and infamous Master Diver, Master Chief Petty Officer Carl Brashear,” said Kuehner. “HN Ericson’s valorous acts embody selfless service and the Navy core values of honor, courage and commitment.”
Ericson recently graduated from Hospital Corpsman Basic “A” School and will be attending Dental Assistant “C” School.