U.S. Navy Hospital Corpsman First Class Alan P. Aaron has been selected one of the 2019 recipients of the Armed Services YMCA Angels of the Battlefield Award.
Aaron provided exemplary care and support Aug. 21, 2017, when the USS John S. McCain and an oil tanker collided off the coast of Singapore.
“I grabbed my breakfast… and as soon as I sat down, we heard a pop,” Aaron said of the start of that morning. “And I got up and I just ran out.”
Aaron ran in the direction of the sound of the collision and saw Sailors escaping through a scuttle. Aaron ran to the berthing area damaged in the collision and searched for injured shipmates. After the order came to close all watertight doors, Aaron was instructed to go to the medical area.
When he arrived, Aaron took control and initiated a mass casualty response, conducting an on-scene assessment, setting up triage and coordinating the movements of patients to casualty collection points on the ship. Aaron performed advanced first aid, Basic Life Support, critical care and other medical management functions on nearly 50 Sailors in the first five hours after the collision. He depleted his stock of antibiotics treating nearly one-third of the crew exposed to fuel and black water. His actions contributed not only to the health of the crew and his patients, but also the survivability of the ship.
In the months after the event, Aaron wore many hats: pharmacist, physician, chaplain, and mental health professional for the crew of the USS John S. McCain.
“I put my crew before myself,” Aaron said. “It was hard, it was some rough days. But I have to do this for these guys. Because if I leave, who else is going to take care of them? Who else is going to be their voice, their advocate?”
He will receive the award at the Oct. 27 gala. “It definitely has humbled me,” Aaron said of receiving the Angels of the Battlefield Award. “I’m really appreciative of it. I know that this award is not for me, but for my crew… I take it for them, I accept this for them. Because without them, none of this would have been possible.”
HM1 Aaron was born and raised in southern California. He is the father of one son. He is currently assigned as an instructor at the Hospital Corpsman Basic Program in San Antonio. His personal awards and decorations include the Joint Service Commendation Medal and the Joint Service Achievement Medal.
The Angels of the Battlefield Awards Gala is an Armed Services YMCA signature event honoring the individual men and women on the front lines who are saving lives and have demonstrated extraordinary courage. The Armed Services YMCA recognizes a single individual from each military branch for their accomplishments.
The annual Angels of the Battlefield Gala takes place at the Ritz-Carlton, Pentagon City in Arlington, Va. Angels is the only event which recognizes the front line actions of military medical personnel.
ABOUT ARMED SERVICES YMCA:
The Armed Services YMCA is a registered 501(c)3 nonprofit that serves currently serving military members and their families. In 2018, we engaged more than 225,000 people in our programs and delivered nearly 1 million points of services to junior enlisted Soldiers, Marines, Sailors, Airmen, Coast Guardsmen and family members at 200 service centers in 18 states. Whether providing respite child care for parents in need, summer camps for kids, or assisting with emergency needs, the Armed Services YMCA is a nonprofit with a mission: Strengthening Our Military Family. Visit our website to see how you can join us in supporting military families.