Two Marines received the Navy & Marine Corps Medal—the highest non-combat decoration awarded for heroism by the U.S. Navy—for their bravery and selfless actions during the Route 91 Harvest Festival in October 2017.
During the festival, a lone gunman opened fire on the crowd as Jason Aldean was performing, killing 58 people and wounding more than 500 people.
Sgt. Austin Cox, 26, and Sgt. Michael Vura, 26, Marine Light Attack Helicopter Training Squadron 303 helicopter mechanics, were attending the concert as part of their three-day weekend in Las Vegas.
“Both of us being from Ohio, country music is something we bonded on and is one of the reasons we became best friends,” said Sgt. Vura, according to a recent article in the Orange County Register.
When the shooting began, Sgt. Cox and Sgt. Vura sprang into action, helping concertgoers cross a barricade and administering first aid to wounded patrons. The two Marines applied tourniquets, carried the wounded via makeshift gurneys to ambulances and helped transport a severely injured woman to the hospital.
“We looked at each other and said, ‘We’ve got to go help,’” said Sgt. Austin Cox, according to the OCR. “Our adrenaline was rushing. You just full-blown go. As people ran out, we ran towards chaos.”
Past winners of the Navy & Marine Corps Medal include John F. Kennedy and Carl Brashear, whose heroics were chronicled in the 2000 film Men of Honor.
Sgt. Austin Cox and former Sgt. Michael Vura were awarded Navy and Marine Corps Medals for exceptional bravery and selfless actions during the largest mass shooting in modern American history. https://t.co/1zHi9SQydH
— Stars and Stripes (@starsandstripes) April 30, 2019
photo by by Sgt. David Bickel/Marines.mil