Special ceremony honors Navy Yard shooting victims, responders

Special ceremony honors Navy Yard shooting victims, responders

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The U.S. Navy is marking a dark day its recent history by honoring the Washington Navy Yard shooting victims, heroic survivors and community organizations helping to heal the many wounds opened by last September's mass murder in the nation's capital.

"As we gather here, " the Navy's senior chaplain said in his invocation before an awards ceremony at the Navy Yard Monday morning, "inevitably our thoughts turn back to that terrifying day last September. And we remember those who were wounded and those who died serving their nation."

Twelve Navy Yard workers were shot dead by a lone gunman that 16th of September.

Navy Secretary Ray Mabus spoke at the ceremony.

"The memory of those killed that day will always burn brightly,” he said.

Among the dead, John Roger (JJ) Johnson, a 73-year-old logistics expert for the Navy. His widow, Judy, accepted the Navy Distinguished Civilian Service Medal with Valor from Mabus.

"I'm just thankful for all the people that have done so much for me and cared so much," Mrs. Johnson told FOX 5 News. "And for my grandchildren and children. I miss him every day. He was a wonderful, wonderful man."

Charlene Proctor and her son, Kendall, accepted the same award on behalf of her husband and his father, Kenneth, a 46-year-old civilian utilities foreman.

"It's a day to be thankful for the responders and the people that were able to help and save other people," Mrs. Proctor told us.

"People who responded courageously in the face of incomprehensible violence," Chief of Chaplins RADM. Mark Tidd explained.

One of the sailors recognized for heroism says his training for the Iraq War helped him respond without hesitation or fear in Building 197 that day. Building 197 was home to Naval Sea Systems Command.

Captain Timothy Crone received the Navy and Marine Corps Medal.

"We did have training," Crone explained to us. "And, in fact on the ships, we practiced active shooter drills. So once I kind of got the word that there was a shooter, it was kind of second nature to go back to that training you receive on the ships and it becomes automatic at that point."

Navy Captain Chris Mercer also received the Navy and Marine Corps Medal.

"I haven't seen the officers that got us out of the building until today," he told us, "and was able to shake their hands, hug them. My mom hugged them. My family did as well. I think it's important for everybody to see us come together and not necessarily to award, but to just be together again and recognize what a tragic event that was.”

Now nine months ago.

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