"GoArmy" earns highest-level civilian decoration for saving a woman and two children
Two Sailors and one civilian received the Distinguished Service Award during a ceremony held in the Bop Hope Theater at Marine Corps Air Station, Miramar Oct. 2.
For Lottery Post members, it is a special moment of pride, as one of their own earned the highest-level civilian distinction.
Electronics Technician 1st Class (SW) Verlon Cox, who goes by the member name "GoArmy" at Lottery Post, Mineman 1st Class (SW) Ralph Bishop and Clarence B. Good received their award from San Diego County Sheriff's Department for saving the lives of others while risking their own during an incident that occurred in August.
During the afternoon of Aug. 26, in a residential area of Spring Valley, Calif., Cox and his roommate, Bishop, responded to the request of their neighbor asking for help.
The woman informed the Sailors her fiancé was unstable and would not allow her two sons, one 17-months old and the other 5-years old, to leave her apartment.
Upon hearing children were involved, Cox took a canister of oleoresin capsicum (OC), commonly known as pepper spray, and he and Bishop went to investigate the situation.
"I was shocked," said Cox. "I didn't really understand what I was seeing."
When they arrived at the apartment, they discovered the fiancé holding the younger of the two children and watched him grab a large knife from the kitchen area.
"I couldn't believe this was happening; I just didn't believe it," said Bishop. "This is stuff you see on TV or read in the newspaper."
Cox tried to convince the assailant to let the child go, but the man stabbed himself in the neck and started bleeding profusely. The woman became hysterical and begged him to release her child. For a brief moment, the man was distracted, and Cox grabbed the 17-month old child from the assailant.
The woman took the 17-month old child and fled to a bedroom. Cox helped the woman and child escape through the bedroom window; however, the 5-year old was still in the apartment with the assailant.
Bishop and Cox returned to the apartment in attempt to convince the man to let the child go. While at the front door, Good, a carpenter who was working in the vicinity, joined the two Sailors to assist with the struggle.
The assailant finally opened the door, now holding the 5-year old boy in one hand and a 10-inch knife in the other.
The Sailors and Good stood by as the assailant began stabbing himself again, this time in the chest while refusing to release the child.
Good pulled his hammer from his utility belt and told the man to release the child.
The assailant threatened to kill the child and raised the knife to his throat.
At this moment Cox yelled, "OC, OC," and within a second, Cox blasted the canister of pepper spray into the assailant's face, and Bishop grabbed the child.
Good and Cox distracted the assailant's attention long enough for Bishop to flee the area with the children and mother and took them to his apartment.
"When I came back to the apartment after taking them to my place, I couldn't find Cox," said Bishop. "That's the only time I got scared, was when I thought something had happened to my shipmate."
Meanwhile, after regaining his bearings, the assailant wielded his knife again and went after Good. As a result, Good was stabbed three times in the attack.
"Clarence [Good] is a really good guy," said Cox. "He had nothing to do with what was going on, and he still didn't hesitate to help us. The knife that he got stabbed with was meant for me."
Cox then worked simultaneously to end the assailant's attack on Good while clearing away a crowd of onlookers to prevent the man from stabbing anyone else.
"I'm over here, I'm over here," said Cox.
By yelling and screaming at the assailant, Cox ended the attack on Good but now, the attention was on Cox. He only hoped he could outrun the assailant.
Fortunately, a deputy sheriff arrived on the scene just as Cox started to tire from running and the assailant was about to make contact.
The deputy sheriff drew his weapon and ordered the man to the ground, ending the ordeal.
"If not for the heroic actions of these three men, two little boys could very likely be dead," said Sheriff Bill Kolender of the San Diego County Sheriff's Department.
Cox and Bishop are assigned to USS Freedom (LCS 1), the Navy's first littoral combat ship. They are currently stationed in San Diego, Freedom's future homeport.
"These Sailors were presented with a horrific situation, and they responded to it with the Navy core values," said Cmdr. Don Gabrielson, Freedom's commanding officer. "They didn't have to do what they did, but they did, and they saved lives."
Lottery Post member Verlon Cox ("GoArmy") is pictured third from the left.
The three heros, who saved a woman and her two children are: USS Freedom (LCS 1) Sailors,
Mineman 1st Class Ralph Bishop, left, and Electronics Technician 1st Class Verlon Cox, and
civilian Clarence Good. Each received the Distinguished Service Award, the highest-level civilian