Acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas Modly on Tuesday proclaimed Ensign Joshua K. Watson as a naval aviator, and Airman Mohammed S. Haitham and Airman Apprentice Cameron S. Walters as naval aircrewmen, Fox 13 News reported.
“It is my honor today to present the Wings of Gold to the families of these three American heroes who were among the first to respond to horrific attacks upon our own naval family and tragically were also our sailors who made the ultimate sacrifice in protecting their brothers and sisters in arms,” Modly said in a statement.
Modly said the Wings of Gold are symbolic of the goal all three sailors were working to realize during their military training.
“Airman Haitham, Airman Walters and Ensign Watson represent the highest virtues of naval aviation and undoubtedly belong in that great fraternity of selfless service to our Navy, our Department and our Nation,” Modly said.
Vice Adm. DeWolfe H. Miller III called the men heroes for trying to stop the attack.
“Their actions and sacrifice embodied the competence, courage and character of those who wear Naval Aviation Wings of Gold," Miller said. "These wings were presented in honor of their brave actions and in everlasting memory of their sacrifice.”
Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani, a 21-year-old aviation student from Saudi Arabia, opened fire at NAS Pensacola on Friday, killing the three military members and injuring eight others. Police shot and killed the Saudi gunman.
Instructor pilots also asked top military brass for permission to arm themselves in the wake of the shooting.