By Rear Adm. Gary Mayes
I just came from the funeral procession, and the remains of our three fallen Shipmates are currently on their way to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware.
Friday’s senseless act of violence took these young men from us, physically wounded eight others, and scarred the hearts of countless more.
On behalf of the entire Navy, I extend my deepest sympathies to the families of the Sailors whose lives were taken during this heinous act.
In painful times like these, we also see the true strength and character of our interagency partnerships. Naval Security Forces responded to the scene immediately; within minutes the Escambia County first responders arrived, and they worked together seamlessly in this crisis, just as they trained. This team hones skills they hoped they would never have to use, but when called upon they responded with such expertise and determination that they most certainly saved the lives of many others. The “whole of community” response continues, and the Navy will continue to work closely with local, county, state and federal law enforcement in support of the FBI’s investigation into this tragic incident.
For the Navy, our primary focus remains on taking care of the families and friends of the victims, as well as ensuring the Service members, civilians, and the families of NAS Pensacola receive the support that they need. The Navy chaplains are available for pastoral care, an Emergency Family Assistance Center has been established at the Fleet and Family Service Center, and additional counselors are available to help the team already here in Pensacola.
I urge anyone who feels they need a little extra support to reach out and get the help they need to process this event and rebuild and strengthen your personal resiliency. Asking for help is a sign of strength, and we are strongest as a team.
The installation is currently open only to mission essential personnel, and as it shifts back to routine access tomorrow morning, know that the security forces are doing what needs to be done to make NAS Pensacola and bases and installations around the world as safe as possible. We will continue to work with our partners in law enforcement to investigate, review and guard against future vulnerabilities and to safeguard the security of our service members and their families. Their safety is paramount.
The citizens of Pensacola have been incredibly generous with their thoughts and prayers, which are foundational and continue to make a huge difference during the process of healing and recovery. On behalf of Navy leadership, I would again like to thank the hard work and dedication of everyone here and the entire community.