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Nov 18, 2021 1:04:40 PM



Oldest Military Support Organization Founded on Civil War Battlefields Awards Active-Duty Heroes Saving Lives of Service Members and Civilians Around the World

Woodbridge, Va. (November 17, 2021) - Celebrating its 160th Anniversary, the Armed Services YMCA, the oldest military support organization in the United States, “Strengthening Our Military Family®” since 1861, honored five military first responders during its 15th Annual Angels of the Battlefield Awards media event, presented by Leonardo DRS, yesterday. Last night, the honorees were also recognized at an invitation-only gala, presented by USAA and American Airlines, with keynote speaker Honorable Meredith Berger, Under Secretary of the Navy, at The Ritz Carlton, Pentagon City.

“USAA is proud to serve as the title sponsor for this year’s Angels of the Battlefield Awards Gala, exclaimed VADM John Bird of USAA. “Tonight’s event honors some truly remarkable individuals who have shown tremendous bravery and dedication to their mission.”

At the evening gala, emceed by NBC News Correspondent, Sam Brock, the Armed Services will also present journalist and philanthropist, Bob Woodruff, with a special Angel of Honor award for his courage and valor in 2006, when a roadside bomb struck his vehicle near Taji, Iraq while reporting for ABC News left him seriously injured. With the help of military first responders who rendered him aid, his life was saved and his recovery was nothing short of miraculous. He and his family founded the Bob Woodruff Foundation (BWF) to give back to the brave military men and women who have been impacted by their service to our country. For 15 years, BWF has led an enduring call to action for people to stand up for heroes and meet the emerging and long-term needs of today’s veterans, including mental health, caregiver support, food insecurity, and service-connected fertility issues.

“We established our foundation to support the military/veteran community when they return home and need help – now, we’ve invested over $80M towards that mission. We all owe so much to our veterans and their families, and for me our work is incredibly personal,” said Bob Woodruff, ABC News Correspondent and co-founder of the Bob Woodruff Foundation. “I would not be here if not for the soldiers and military medics who pulled me out of that armored vehicle in Iraq and saved my life. I’m honored and humbled to be a part of this meaningful event.”

The Armed Services YMCA was founded by volunteers who braved the Civil War battlefields to provide care and comfort to troops. Its Angels of the Battlefield Awards pays tribute to that history by honoring active-duty military who serve as combat medics, corpsmen and medical and rescue service members representing all five branches of the U.S. Armed Services. Today, the organization provides care and comfort to junior enlisted military families through no- or low-cost programs and direct services, specifically designed to help them navigate the challenges of military life.

“Military first responders deserve recognition for their heroism, service and sacrifice. The Armed Services YMCA is and has been a proud supporter of America’s military for 160 years,” said William French, Vice Admiral, U.S. Navy (Ret.), Armed Services YMCA Chief Executive Officer. “We are proud and humbled at our longevity and aim to continue serving junior enlisted families -- who all serve in their own ways -- through childcare services, youth programs and food assistance.”

The 2021 Angels of the Battlefield for unparalleled courage, selfless actions and exceptional service are:

  • S. Army - Staff Sergeant (SSgt) Margot C. Gebers, from Northern Calif. (Napa), for Superior Leadership: SSgt Margot Gebers has demonstrated strength and leadership serving on the front lines of the pandemic to keep soldiers safe and healthy. She completed pre-deployment health assessments for 1,500 soldiers in two weeks, conducted pre-flight COVID tests, and managed and administered COVID vaccinations for over 17,500 soldiers and counting, achieving a 40 percent vaccination rate for active-duty members in just four months. These are just a few of her exceptional achievements, showcasing her superior leadership.

  • S. Navy - Hospital Corpsman Third Class (HM3) Ernie L. Groover, from Savannah, Ga., for Exceptional Courage: On September 22, 2020, HM3 Groover was the only Hospitalman assigned to 300 Marine recruits at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in Parris Island, South Carolina, when that morning, a recruit suddenly and violently collapsed during physical training. HN Groover rushed to the unresponsive recruit’s aid, ensured emergency medical services were contacted promptly, and immediately began CPR on the recruit until emergency services arrived. As a result of HM3 Groover’s quick actions, the Marine recruit fully recovered.

  • S. Air Force - Master Sergeant (MSgt) Brayan Jimenez, Los Angeles, for Fearless in the Fight: While deployed in Kenya, Master Sergeant Brayan Jimenez bravely assisted British and Kenyan partners in responding to mass casualties from traumatic blast injuries as a result of a terrorist organization’s ambush on Kenyan Rangers. This honoree’s bravery, rapid response, effective communication, and constant collaboration with 25 multinational medical personnel, the Kenyan Rangers received the highest possible care. MSGT Jimenez distinguished himself through leadership and bravery. 

  • S. Coast Guard - Aviation Survival Technician First Class (AST1) Trevor Salt, from South Jordan, Utah, for Extraordinary Heroism: On January 18, 2021, AST1 Salt was tasked with medically evacuating two hikers, one who was severely injured from falling 1,500ft down Grayback Mountain in Oregon. The flight crew braved 46 mph winds and 14-degree weather to drop AST1 Salt onto the side of the icy peak. Suffering from a spinal injury and several broken bones, in addition to shock and hypothermia, AST1 Salt treated the injured woman and kept her awake all night by talking about their families and dogs. The next morning, they were safely medivaced to a medical facility. As a result of AST1 Salt’s courage and dedication, the patient survived.

  • S. Marine Corps - Hospital Corpsman First Class (HM1) Name Confidential, from The Colony, Texas, for Exemplary Valor: This Hospital Corpsman First Class, whose identity is confidential due to the sensitive nature of his missions, saved the lives of partner forces soldiers on three different occasions during an overseas deployment in 2020. The mass casualties included nearly 20 injured and several fatalities. His quick and courageous response providing critical care, running triage for over 6 hours and administering a blood transfusion in the field, this honoree’s exemplary valor saved multiple lives.

The Armed Services YMCA is the oldest military support organization in the United States, founded in 1861. The Armed Services YMCA's mission enhances the lives of active duty junior enlisted military members and their families through programs relevant to the unique challenges of military life. In 2020, the Armed Services YMCA served nearly 150,000 individuals and delivered more than 500,000 points of service through its 12 Branches and 24 Affiliate Partners. To learn more about how the ASYMCA is "Strengthening Our Military Family®,” visit