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June 25, 2014
Contact: Gwendolyn Smalls, Office of External Affairs
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USU alumnus receives Navy-Marine Corps Medal for Heroism during Washington Navy Yard Shooting
Bethesda, Md -- Navy Lt. Cmdr. (Dr.) Michael Melia, a 2003 graduate of the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (USU) F. Edward Hébert School of Medicine, and an emergency physician assigned to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, was at the Washington Navy Yard Sept. 16, 2013, just as a gunman started making his way through the base’s Building 197, shooting at Navy Yard employees. On Monday, June 23, 2014, Melia was presented the Navy-Marine Corps Medal for heroic actions by Navy Secretary Ray Mabus at an awards ceremony to honor victims and heroes of the shooting last fall.
Lt. Cmdr. Melia was participating in a regional emergency medical systems conference at the Washington Navy Yard last year when the shooting began. Melia, an emergency physician and tactical medicine officer who was serving as the deputy medical director for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, didn’t hesitate. He grabbed his limited tactical gear and medical trauma bag from his car and joined security officers as they searched for casualties.
With the gunman still active, Melia established a casualty collection point, and rejoined tactical teams as they swept the building, room by room. He repeatedly entered and exited Building 197 as casualties were located, without hesitation or regard for his own personal safety, to render emergency medical assistance and to carry victims to a secured location where they could receive additional medical care, including one victim who had been shot in the neck numerous times. He continued assisting law enforcement officers until the “all clear” signal was given more than seven hours after the shooting had begun.
According to the award narrative, Melia “demonstrated an extraordinary display of heroism in the face of extreme danger to provide direct medical care in a hostile environment.”
The Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, founded by an act of Congress in 1972, is the nation’s federal health sciences university and the academic heart of the Military Health System. USU students are primarily active duty uniformed officers in the Army, Navy, Air Force and Public Health Service who receive specialized education in tropical and infectious diseases, TBI and PTSD, disaster response and humanitarian assistance, global health, and acute trauma care. A large percentage of the university’s more than 5,200 physician and 1,000 advanced practice nursing alumni are supporting operations around the world, offering their leadership and expertise. USU also has graduate programs in biomedical sciences and public health committed to excellence in research, and in oral biology, which have award more than 1,500 degrees to date. The University's research program covers a wide range of clinical and other topics important to both the military and public health. For more information about USU and its programs, visit www.usuhs.edu.