As military service members, we purposely go into harm’s way to protect and preserve our national interests. We deploy forward and work in dangerous environments. We knowingly risk our lives to serve others, and understand we may be called to make the ultimate sacrifice.
On September 4th, the Navy announced the names of those lost in the MH-60S helicopter crash off of San Diego. Among those five crewmembers were two of Navy Medicine’s own –HM2 Sarah Burns of Severna Park, MD and HM3 Bailey Tucker of St. Louis, MO. To all those who knew them and served beside them, Sarah Burns and Bailey Tucker are more than names. Both have been described as compassionate individuals who joined the Navy with a desire to give back.
Inspired by her paternal grandfather’s service, HM2 Burns enlisted in the Navy in 2010. She spent those first years as an aircraft mechanic with Helicopter Mine Countermeasures Squadron 14, Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 84, and Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 85 before deciding to cross-rate and become a Search and Rescue Medical Technician. HM2 Burns became a fully qualified Corpsman in November 2020 and was assigned to the Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron Eight.
HM3 Tucker’s path to Navy Medicine was shorter, but he too shared Burns’ goal of serving a greater cause. He enlisted in 2019, a year out of high school. For Tucker, being a Corpsman and having the chance to serve others and save lives was his life’s calling. Serving with Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron Eight afforded him this opportunity to do what he loved.
Each and every day we rely on highly trained Sailors like HM2 Sarah Burns and HM3 Bailey Tucker to take on demanding missions, keep us operationally ready and ensure our warfighters remain in the fight. They represent the very best of America; less than one percent of our fellow citizens have volunteered to serve in the military. And we are painfully reminded with their tragic deaths, service does not come without risk, even beyond active combat zones.
Like HM3 Max Soviak, who died August 26th on the front lines of Operation Allies Refuge, although their lives came to an end much too soon, they shall be remembered as inspiring examples of devotion to duty and service to others. Please hold them and their families in your thoughts, prayers, and hearts.
With my continued respect and admiration,
Bruce L. Gillingham, MD, CPE, FAOA
RADM, MC, USN
Surgeon General, U.S. Navy
Chief, Bureau of Medicine and Surgery