Sailor killed on USS Mahan gave his life to protect shipmates

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Norfolk, Va. - Master-at-Arms 2nd Class Mark A. Mayo, 24, was killed during a shooting incident at Naval Station Norfolk Monday. Mayo was assigned to Naval Security Forces, Naval Station Norfolk.

Norfolk Naval Base commander Robert Clark said the young sailor sacrificed himself to save others.

"It was incredibly extraordinary," says Clark.

The shooting happened around 11:20pm Monday night at Pier 1 onboard the USS Mahan.

The Navy says 35-year-old civilian truck driver Jeffrey Tyrone Savage drove a 2002 Freightliner through Gate 5 just after 11:00 p.m., proceeded to Pier 1, and attempted to board the USS Mahan.

Savage was confronted by ship security personnel who ordered him to stop. A struggle broke out and Savage managed to disarm the Petty Officer of the Watch.

Mayo was serving as Chief of the Guard and was in the vicinity of the Mahan when the struggle broke out. He immediately responded to render assistance and engaged in gunfire with Savage.

"He jumped into the way between the gunman and the petty officer of the watch. She fell to the ground. He covered her and he basically gave his life for hers," says Clark.

Savage fatally shot Mayo before turning the gun on other nearby security personnel. The other security forces shot and killed Savage.

Savage did have a valid Transportation Worker Identification Card (TWIC) but that alone does not allow base access.

The ongoing NCIS investigation has revealed that Savage had no reason or authorization to be on base.

The chain of events that allowed Savage entry to the installation and the ship are under investigation.

Officials: Accused Navy shooter was not supposed to be allowed access to base
TWIC card allows civilians with criminal histories access to base

There are still a lot of questions about what happened and why, but what Mayo did is undisputed.

"Doing that, that's something he would do,” says Virgil Savage, a fellow sailor and close friend of Mayo. “He always stood up for the little guy."

"Everybody loved him,” he says. “Wherever you were at, whether he worked at the armory or waterside, he kept you laughing."

Savage says Mayo was known for his upbeat personality as well as his dedication to duty.

"What he did for his country, what he did for the sailor's life that he saved, he's a hero," Virgil Savage says.

Naval Station Norfolk was briefly on lockdown for approximately 45 minutes as a precautionary measure after the shooting.

With the exception of Pier 1, all operations have returned to normal at Naval Station Norfolk.

The USS Mahan (U.S. Navy)

The USS Mahan (U.S. Navy)

The circumstances surrounding the shooting are under investigation by NCIS and Naval security forces.

Adm. Bill Gortney, commander, U.S. Fleet Forces Command appointed Rear Adm. Jeffrey Harley to lead the investigation.

Rear Adm. Harley is currently serving as the President, Board of Inspection and Survey based in Norfolk.

"Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family, friends and shipmates of our sailors who were killed Monday night," said Gortney. "I have directed a second investigation to be conducted in addition to the law enforcement investigation led by Naval Criminal Investigative Service."

The second investigation will be convened under the Manual of the Judge Advocate General. This investigation will be a comprehensive examination into the circumstances surrounding the Naval Station Norfolk shooting, to include a review of applicable policy, programs, and implementation.

"The safety and security of our sailors, civilians, and families is paramount, and it is imperative that we are taking all appropriate and necessary measures to ensure their safety," said Gortney.

Master-at-Arms 2nd Class Mark A. Mayo, 24"Petty Officer Mayo's actions on Monday evening were nothing less than heroic. He selflessly gave his own life to ensure the safety of the Sailors on board USS Mahan (DDG 72)," said Capt. Robert E. Clark, Jr., commanding officer, Naval Station Norfolk. "Petty Officer Mayo's family has endured a tremendous loss, as have the men and women of Naval Station Norfolk, in the loss of a shipmate and friend."

A Hagerstown, Md. native, Mayo enlisted in the Navy in Oct. 2007 and reported to Naval Station Norfolk in May 2011.

Mayo had been a standout wrestler in high school before joining the Navy. He was stationed in Bahrain and Rota, Spain before coming to Norfolk.

He was awarded the Global War on Terrorism service medal, the National Defense service medal, and a Good Conduct award.

"Mark was kind. Mark wasn't judgemental. Mark didn't judge people. Mark was good-hearted," his mother, Sharon Blair said of her son.


    • ashf

      it is very sad that another solider had to lose his life. for know real reason. besides exculpate his co worker, argurments of the unknown will never change the situation. whether he was a contractor, or not some one lose a family member for a incongrous act.

      • Brittius

        Very true. I expect a rehashing of an investigation similar to the previous Navy Yard shooting in DC, where in my opinion as a retired investigator, left all open ends. Nothing conclusive, as everything is political wrangling on all sides.
        I will say this much, military personnel must, be armed on US military bases and should be once again tasked with security and policing the confines of the military base and perimeters. The world is different than years ago, for the worse. Any loss of life, in my opinion is unacceptable under the conditions of non-combat inflicted.
        Thank you, for your excellent comment.

      • Steve Hammone

        You do not do yourself any favors trying to sound educated when you cannot spell and use proper grammar. And he was a SAILOR not a soldier.

  • The Don

    Wow how did a civilian get aboard…dress up as a sailor. ..sounds like a domestic issue that turned deadly. Security is lax that’s for sure…condolences for the victim’s family not the suspect !

    • Bruce

      The civilian could have been an authorized contractor, guest or a family member. There are female sailors with families that live on bases around the world.

    • Joel Smith

      from what I read, he drove up to the pier in a semi truck or delivery truck. i do know that he was authorized and had base access, but i dont think he had ship access.

  • Real deal

    Thank you United States Navy for putting a sloppy looking captain on TV. This is NOT what the Navy looks like. Sad day for all involved.

  • Theresa Smith

    The captain was probably jarred out of bed with news that this tragedy had just occurred. Are you saying you you would have taken the time to shower and shave just in case you might be on TV? A little vain, aren’t you?

  • T. Butch

    The civilian would have had to have some kind of credentials to even make it pass the entrance control point to make it to the ship. As for the comments about the CO, you need to check yourself. You really think that man had time to think when he got the notification. PROBABLY NOT. His thing was probably getting to his vessel at best speed. My condolences go out to the heroes who put their lives on the line for this great country.


    • Honestly....

      So you would have been able to read the shooter’s mind in time to react to an action that you didn’t anticipate? Possily one from a person you worked with and knew and trusted, since we don’t know who the shooter was? Wow-how is it you’re not a Seal or Green Beret or Ranger or something, since you’re such a hot shot? And please don’t repost saying that you are one of those things, or a cop, or whatever….if you were, you never would have made such a stupid comment in the first place.

  • The Don

    A contractor on base that late…seems strange to me. I still think security for them is very laxed …its the largest base in the world. Aren’t they suppose to have 2 men on deck ? Very sad that this happen to the victim.

    • Honestly....

      Last time I checked, sailors counted as men, unless they are female. So, with the Petty Officer, that makes two, right? (Not counting the shooter.) And the words are “lax,” and “supposed.”

  • Willie

    I’m wondering how the suspect was able to get the gun out of the holster? I’m in the navy and I know we have three different kinds all of which have locks on them. My prayers go out to everyone involved and i can definitely see an increase in security measures now.

  • Charles Smith

    I wonder how the shooter got on base. How did he get past the Pier Sentry? I retired from the Navy a few years ago, I can’t see how it could have gotten this lax so fast. Maybe it reflects the new concern for maximum duty sections and minimum manning of our ships.
    It was right before the Mid watch turnover, I imagine the watch section was getting ready for turnover the rover was probably waking up the reliefs so the Quarter Deck manning was not %100. I can’t wait to see what the overreaction Big Navy is going to have after this. It should be interesting. Anyways my deepest sympathy to the family of the sailor that was killed.

  • Micah Letts

    You people are retarded, they said he had authorization to get on base. some sort of contractor or something and its not really that uncommon for contractors to be on base that late, there could have been some sort of shift work that was going on and contractors are often coming and going at all the time. Obviously the issue was only with him trying to get onboard this ship, which is where the personnel on watch confronted him, rightfully so. They said there was a “scuffle” but what doesn’t make any sense is why there was a scuffle in the first place. the situation obviously wasn’t handled in he best way. Its too bad that a sailor was killed, and I’m glad they shot the suspect.

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  • William Watkins

    I am in the NAVY and an 18 year old who has never shot a gun, Is qualified to stand an armed watch with less than 2 hours of weapons training and a minimum score at the range. I don’t want to leave out the Gundecked POOW Qual. That consist of writing deck logs and passing the word, Zero training in weapon retention. I will say this though one of our weapons rule is Don’t point your gun at anything you don’t intend to shoot she pulled the weapon and didn’t follow through and now a man is dead for her losing control of her weapon. We have holsters that makes it nearly impossible for someone to pull your weapon out. I hate to say this as well but it happened on mid watch where the section leaders place the people that cannot accomplish this watch during working hours. In her defense we are not afraid to shoot it is the repercussions we would face the man was unarmed and was only physical.

    • Gotchya

      Either you’ve never shot a gun and are standing armed watches illegally. Or you’ve been on the range, fired the gun, and met at least minimum standards. Can’t qualify without shooting a gun. Additionally, If you’re implying that your chain of command isn’t doing ATFP and your duty sections are gun decking quals to fill watch bills, I’d have to ask why you’re broadcasting that with your real name and identifying information instead of reporting it to the ICE hotline? Accepting the status quo is just as deadly as setting it. I know I’m going to be reporting it.

    • Big Daddy

      First you are confusing deck quals with ATFP quals. The deck qual “Petty Officer Watch” is the portion that covers writing deck logs and using the 1MC. The portion that you are referring to is the ATFP portion “Sentry”. That is where you are required to fire a weapon, graduate from Ship’s Reaction Force “Bravo”, and learn to handle yourself in a scuffle. Those two incombination allow a sallor to carry a wepon and be petty officer of the watch. Carriers for example do it differently. They have a armed brow sentry and leave the POOW unarmed. Both are acceptable.

      I remember when I was in “A” school and I was standing front gate watches with practically zero training and armed only with a radio.

  • PajamaMama

    He was a truck driver, meaning he had access to the base and to the pier to drive his truck up. Its unclear if he used his ID to access the base and pier. Initial reports were he blew through both. Either way, this would not give him access to a ship.

    What makes most sense is this guy was probably pissed at one of the crew members. A Jodie situation perhaps where a Sailor was messing with his wife or daughter. He tried to bully his way onto the ship to confront the Sailor, the POOW, who I understand was a female, maybe tried to physically stop him with her tiny body and got her weapon taken OR more likely, she drew down on him, then hesitated before shooting him. (We get/give Deadly Force training on a regular basis, and know it like the back of our hands – but when its the real deal, someone who does not have a type A personality is probably going to wimp out, hesitate, cower. etc.) This trucker, who if he was a typical trucker, was probably a big dude easily wrested the gun from her. As this was happening, the COG (Chief of the Guard) on the pier saw/heard what was going on and came to the POOW’s aid, possibly with his/her gun drawn and probably yelling to get on the ground. The trucker then probably turned, saw the gun and started shooting. (maybe the COG didnt know he was armed at that point). Since the trucker was standing and the COG was running, he had the drop on him and shot him before the COG could get a shot off. I do know there were multiple shots fired. This noise attracted the attention of the topside rover, who was able to get a bead on the shooter and take him out.

    One question I have. Where was the OOD? Two weapons on the QD is the rule.

    If my monday morning quartebacking is correct then the Lesson Learned here – 1) Dont be a Jodie, esp if the husband/father is a big a$$ trucker. 2) Dont give weapons to timid, or mousy, or cowardly Sailors regardless if they are technically ‘qualified’. 3) Dont put your “B” team on the quarterdeck at night because you dont want them embarassing you in front of the CO during the day. Put your best teams at night when every one else is asleep, including your SRF/BRF security teams – as this is when ‘the sh#t’ usually goes down. some words may get passed wrong, but you can count on better responses after hours when everyones posture tends to be relaxed.

    Source: I am Senior Enlisted, Active Duty Navy.

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  • Wayne Spencer

    Why is no one asking who the shooter was… or why DON is not saying… he is muslim????? Just saying??

  • justme321

    He was a felon……so give them time to come up with a whole lot of excuses of why a person with a felony was cleared to enter in the first place

  • da-rube

    Things have changed alot in the 20 some years I have been out of the service 27 years now. As a top watch – we were issued 1911’s and at many times there was just one of us – no backup – if you were not good enough with a 45 to qual then you got to carry a shotgun. In the Navy you had to qualify to be able to carry either one. However, neither the pistol or the shotgun could be loaded and it was a captains mast if they were found to be loaded. As far as any type of physical contact training that happened at the bars while on liberty – the Navy never provided any hand to hand at all to be qualified to stand topside watch. I was on submarines out of Mare Island. It sounds like things have changed but not nearly enough. It was always my opinion that a topside watch was like a canary in a mine. A downed topseide watch was the first alert that there was a problem – he was simply an alarm.

    • Steve Hammone

      Go ahead and pray to your fake god and pedophilic thief of a false prophet carpet kisser, your eternity in hell is assured.

  • Ervin Littleton

    MA2 Mayo,
    I cannot find the words to express the way that I feel. Prior to my retirement, each and every time that we passed each other in the hallway of the Precinct or in the parking lot, you always had a pleasant smile on your face and you’ve always treated me along with everyone else with the utmost of respect. On the day that I retired which was September 30, 2013, while turning in equipment at the Armory, we discussed my retirement. You said that you couldn’t wait until the day that you would be able to retire like myself.

    Well my friend, on Monday night March 24, 2014 at 11:20pm, you were about your business of protecting and serving the people of this United States of America. In doing this, you stopped the threat of one of your shipmates being critically injured and you sacrificed your life so that others could live.
    God saw it fitting that you retire from this earthly home, come on up a little higher and patrol the streets of Heaven for all eternity. Rest in peace my friend. You will never be forgotten.
    To The Family Of MA2 Mark Mayo.
    You have my prayers and sincere condolences. I pray that God give you all the strength to endure such a tragic loss. Be proud of your son because he loved his job, he loved helping others and he loved being a Master At Arms/Police Officer. MA2 Mayo gave the ultimate sacrifice. His life to save the life of another.

    Cpl Ervin Littleton
    Retired Police Officer/Sewells Point Police Precinct

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