Great Lakes, Ill. (NNS) – Nick J. Korompilas, a World War II Navy veteran, was recognized for his heroism during a graduation at Recruit Training Command, 12 April.
Pharmacist’s Mate Third Class Korompilas was recognized by Rear Adm. Mike Bernacchi, commander, Naval Service Training Command (NSTC) for his actions 74 years to-the-day before, saving the life of a shipmate when his ship, the USS Mannert L. Abele (DD 733), was sunk on 12 April, 1945.
While operating near Okinawa, Japan, the ship came under attack by Japanese aircraft, including Kamikaze aircraft. “After reaching the main deck to abandon ship with the others from the forward battle dressing station in the wardroom, Petty Officer Korompilas courageously returned aft through the wardroom to the galley to rescue the Chief Commissary Stewards. Although the vessel was in immediate danger of submerging, he led the severely burned and dazed man to safety,” according to his citation.
For his actions, he was awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Medal. During the ceremony at Recruit Training Command, Bernacchi re-presented the medal with the ceremony due this significant award, as well as the American Campaign Medal, Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with two engagement stars, and the World War II Victory Medal, all of which Korompilas earned during his service.
The Navy and Marine Corps Medal falls in order of precedence just below the Distinguished Flying Cross and above the Bronze Star. To receive this award, there must be an evident act of heroism when there is very specific life-threatening risk to the award recipient.
Recognizing Korompilas was not only a fitting tribute to his heroism, but holds up his actions as a role-model for the recently graduated Sailors to live up to.
“We want our Sailors to be able to perform under pressure – to be tough,” said Bernacchi. “We train them to act under stressful conditions, to take the actions needed to fight and save their ships, and take care of their shipmates. Petty Officer Korompilas’ actions 74 years ago exemplify exactly what we train our Sailors to do, he is a great example of the type of courage that makes a US Sailor. What an honor to have him with us today.”
NSTC oversees 98 percent of initial officer and enlisted accessions training for the Navy, as well as the Navy’s Citizenship Development program. NSTC also includes Recruit Training Command (RTC), the Navy’s only boot camp also at Naval Station Great Lakes, the Navy ROTC program at more than 160 colleges and universities, Officer Training Command (OTC) Newport, Rhode Island, and Navy Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps (NJROTC) and Navy National Defense Cadet Corps (NDCC) citizenship development programs at more than 600 high schools worldwide.
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