FARMINGDALE, N.Y. — Staff Sgt. Marlana Watson was spending a quiet night at her Syracuse home playing video games when the New York Army National Guard medic and Afghan War veteran, heard gunshots coming from the street outside.
Watson checked on her sleeping 5-year-old son and rushed outside.
There were two boys down on the lawn across the street. They were yelling, "help me, help me," she recalled.
Not knowing whether or not the shooter had left, or whether more gunfire would occur, Watson raced across the street and began using her medical training to save lives.
Watson was recognized for her selfless-service on the night of Nov. 5, 2014, when she received the New York State Medal for Valor, New York's highest military honor from Major General Patrick Murphy, the Adjutant General, Aug. 19.
"It's an incredible honor to be able to recognize one of our Soldiers for a very selfless act," Murphy said.
"Staff Sgt. Watson acted in the best traditions of the New York National Guard when she went to the aid of those two young men, despite the risk that the assailants could open fire again. She took her military training and expertise and used it to help her neighbors and community," Murphy said.
New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo also praised Watson's actions.
"Without hesitation, Staff Sgt. Watson placed her own personal safety at risk in order to help those in need," Cuomo said. "I commend her heroic actions and am proud to see this exemplary New Yorker receive this well-deserved honor."
The New York State Medal for Valor is awarded to members of the New York National Guard, who display valor, heroism, courage or gallantry either in a military or civilian capacity.
"You don't think you would get a medal this high," Watson said. "I just did what anybody else would have done."
Watson, 28, began administering emergency aid to the two shot boys, ages 13 and 15, and took charge of the scene. She directed her sister to call 911 and enlisted the aid of other residents.
One boy was shot in his upper buttock. She had nothing to stop the bleeding so Watson pulled off his boot and sock and used the sock as a bandage.
She turned him over to check for an exit wound, and seeing none, she asked an onlooker to hold the bandage on the wound while she checked the other victim.
The other victim was shot in the thigh and in the calf. She told him he had to lie still and let her check his wounds because there is a major artery in the leg.
That boy said he was getting cold so Watson sent her sister inside to get a blanket.
By the time her sister returned, the police and emergency medical teams arrived and Watson turned the care of the two teens over to them.
Police later determined that passengers in a vehicle had shot at the two teenagers from behind.
At the time of the event Watson, a Binghamton-native, was assigned to the 107th Military Police Company, which is headquartered in Brooklyn.
She is now assigned to Company A of the New York Army National Guard's Recruiting and Retention Battalion as a full-time recruiter at the Farmingdale, New York, Armed Forces Reserve Center.
A member of the New York Army National Guard since 2004, Watson served as a medic in Afghanistan in 2012 and 2013 as a member of the New York Army National Guard's 427th Brigade Support Battalion.
She and other members of the 427th deployed to Afghanistan and served as part of the 3rd Battalion, 401st Army Field Support Brigade at Bagram Air Base.