VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. -- Two Sailors from Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit (EODMU) 2 were awarded the Bronze Star Medal, for their actions during Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan, during an award ceremony held on Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story (JEBLCFS), June 18.
Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technician 1st Class Johnny J. Novela was awarded the Bronze Star Medal with Combat "V" device for heroic achievement and Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technician 2nd Class John F. Piowaty was awarded the Bronze Star Medal for meritorious achievement in connection with combat operations. Rear Adm. Michael Tillotson, commander, Navy Expeditionary Combat Command (NECC), presented the medals in addition to four Joint Service Commendation Medals.
"I'm glad we're able to recognize our Sailors today," said Tillotson. "These Navy EOD (explosive ordnance disposal) warriors represent the best of the community; always ready to engage the enemy and looking after one another, I couldn't be prouder." Novela was cited for heroic achievement in connection with combat operations against the enemy while serving as an EOD team member while assigned to a Joint Task Force in support of Operation Enduring Freedom from April 13-14, 2012.
Novela's strike force was in a firefight with multiple barricaded shooters when, in an effort to prevent further injuries to a pinned down U.S. Army Ranger, Novela risked his own life maneuvering to draw enemy fire to his position away from his fallen comrade. His engagement with multiple combatants with effective small arms fire ensured the safe extraction of the wounded Ranger. "I didn't even think about it, it just happened, said Novela. "It feels great to receive this award but honestly I was just doing my job. I love each and every one of those guys like a brother and I know they would have done the same for me." Piowaty was cited for meritorious achievement involving combat operations against the enemy. He served as an EOD team leader while assigned to a Joint Task Force in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, March 14 to July 15, 2012. Piowaty's leadership and tactical proficiency directly contributed to the task force's success in disrupting enemy operations during numerous direct action missions. In addition, Piowaty safely escorted assault force personnel clearing kilometers of terrain and several enemy compounds. Piowaty directly contributed to the capture of multiple targeted individuals and resulted in the significant reduction of enemy capabilities. "EOD's fundamental goal is the protection of personnel: looking out for your team, the units you are attached to, and your foreign partners who will continue the fight," said Piowaty. "This award will serve as a daily reminder of that promise. I am honored to receive such a distinguished award."
The Bronze Star Medal is awarded to an individual who, while serving in or with the military of the United States, distinguishes him or herself by heroic or meritorious achievement while engaged in an action against an enemy of the United States or while engaged in military operations involving conflict with an opposing foreign force. President Roosevelt authorized the Bronze Star Medal by Executive Order 9419 Feb. 1944, retroactive to Dec. 7, 1941. The Executive Order was later amended by President Kennedy, per Executive Order 11046 Aug. 24 1962, to expand the authorization to include those serving with friendly forces. EODMU2 provides operational explosive ordnance disposal capability for the location, identification, rendering safe, recovery, field evaluation and disposal of all explosive ordnance, including chemical and nuclear weapons.