Jun 4, 2013 8:41 PM by Andy Koen

Local Marine awarded for heroism

CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. - A Marine Corps Corporal from Florence, Colorado was one of five Marines to be awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Medal on Monday for their heroism in rescuing comrades trapped aboard a crashed MV-22 Osprey during a training mission in Morocco last April.

Cpl. Steve T. Hanson and Sgt. Daniel J. Beers heard a crew chief trapped inside the hull of the aircraft. The found and tore their way through a six inch hole to climb inside and rescue the chief. He was approximately 20 feet up inside the tail of the fuselage hanging upside down suspended by his gunner's belt.

Cpl. Hanson held up the crew chief's body while Beers cut him free from the belt. They then handed the chief to other Marines outside of the aircraft and went to give aid to the pilots.

"These Marines acted with courage, skill and precision that saved lives," said Col. Frank Donovan, the former commanding officer of 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit who presented the awards.

"There was no hesitation with these five Marines," explained Donovan. "Debris still falling, engine still turning, fuel pouring out, these Marines broke into the side of the cabin wanting to recover a fellow Marine. Why did they do it? They did it for a fellow Marine. That's what it's all about."

The Navy and Marine Corps Medal is the highest non-combatant medal awarded by the Department of the Navy to Sailors and Marines. It is awarded to service members who distinguish themselves for heroism not involving actual conflict with an enemy, but while still serving in the Navy or Marine Corps.

Typically, the award is presented in recognition of actions involving the risk of one's own life.

Gunnery Sgt. Joseph Alvarez, Sgt. Christopher Ewain, and Cpl. Michael Pearson also received the award at Monday's ceremony.


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