Sailor Awarded for Heroism after Ship Ran Aground

YOKOSUKA, Japan - A Sailor assigned to the U.S. Navy's forward-deployed aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73) was presented the Navy and Marine Corps Medal during an all-hands call in the ship’s hangar bay, April 3.

Damage Controlman 1st Class Jeffrey Macatangay, from North Hills, Calif., was presented the highest non-combat decoration awarded to members of the U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps who distinguish themselves by heroism for acts of lifesaving, or attempted lifesaving, at the risk of one’s own life.

“It’s truly an honor to be able to present this prestigious award to such an outstanding Sailor,” said Capt. Greg Fenton, George Washington’s commanding officer. “In all my years of service, it’s been a rarity for me to cross paths with any Sailor who has this award. Petty Officer Macatangay’s actions showed true honor, courage and commitment, and embodies what a Sailor should be.”

Macatangay received the Navy and Marine Corps Medal for heroism while serving aboard the now-decommissioned USS Guardian (MCM 5) in January 2013 after the ship ran aground on the Tubbataha Reef in the Republic of the Philippines.

In the early morning of Jan. 18, after approximately 24 hours of efforts by ship’s force to keep Guardian afloat, the seams beneath the number one air conditioning unit in the auxiliary machinery room worked apart, allowing flooding of five gallons per minute into the bilge.

“When the flooding happened, I was told to investigate the space and if possible, stop the flooding,” said Macatangay. “There was about 18 inches of clearance between the water level and equipment above when I entered the space. It was scary, but I knew further flooding could be prevented and eventually the space could be de-watered.”

 In order to reduce the flow of water and prevent loss of electrical power to the ship, Macatangay unhesitatingly entered the bilge and made his way through restrictive piping to erect metal shoring under the air conditioning unit. In doing so, Macatangay delayed the loss of the ship.

“I feel truly honored and humbled to be recognized for my actions during the flooding,” said Macatangay. “There were a lot of people who helped that day and the most important thing is that we all got out safely and no one was injured.”

George Washington and its embarked air wing, Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 5, provide a combat-ready force that protects and defends the collective maritime interest of the U.S. and its allies and partners in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.

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