‘You Make Us ALL Proud’ Esper Tells Pensacola First Responders

Defense Secretary Dr. Mark T. Esper met with some of the first responders at Pensacola Naval Air Station, Florida, who reacted to the shooting incident that left three sailors dead and eight other victims injured at the training installation Dec. 6. Thank you all for your courage, your bravery, your quick response.”Defense Secretary Dr. Mark T. Esper

At the air station’s headquarters yesterday, Esper shook hands with and presented secretary of defense coins to Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class David Link Jr., Navy Patrol Officer Daniel Dugger, Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Donald Scott, and Capt. Robert Johnson, a civilian with the Navy Department police force.

“Thank you all for your courage, your bravery, your quick response,” Esper said. “You guys just did a great job. You make us all proud, and you make the community feel secure. And I want to thank you.”

Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani, a member of the Saudi air force who was attending aviation training at Pensacola, opened fire in a classroom. A subsequent Justice Department investigation declared the attack an act of terrorism that had been motivated by jihadist ideology.

Link was one of the responders who rushed to the scene of the attack. When he heard the call on the radio, he said, he’d been conducting a traffic stop.

“I had just gotten on shift, and I was in the middle of pulling two vehicles over for speeding when the call came out over the radio,” Link said. “It said reports of active shooter, Building 633, and that there were active shots. Once I heard that, I immediately ceased pulling over the vehicles, did a U-turn and headed straight towards the building.”

There, he said, he blocked off the road to make sure that only police personnel could get into the area. “I grabbed my rifle and ran straight towards the front door, where I met up with my team, who was already there.”

Link said this was the first time in his nearly five-year Navy career he’d experienced an actual shooting event. But he said it was familiar to him just the same.

“It was very much like our training. We train how we fight,” he said. “I had my team, and my team was there already. So knowing they were there kind of put me at ease a bit.”