Sailor posthumously awarded Bronze Star

A framed photo is showcased of Chief Boatswain’s Mate Joseph George, who was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star with Valor during a ceremony aboard the USS Arizona Memorial, Dec. 7.

Story and photo by ET2 Jonathan Stremel

Navy Public Affairs Support Element Detachment Hawaii

Chief Boatswain’s Mate Joseph George was post-humously awarded the Bronze Star with Valor during a ceremony aboard the USS Arizona Memorial in Pearl Harbor, Dec. 7.

The award was given in honor of the heroic efforts Chief George displayed in connection with combat operations during the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor.

“With today’s ceremony, we honor Boatswain’s Mate Chief Joseph George and we cement his rightful legacy among America’s celebrated heroes,” said Rear Adm. Matthew J. Carter, deputy commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet. “Chief George’s story is a vivid reminder that strength of the U.S. Pacific Fleet has always been and continues to be our people. Indeed, none of what we achieve is possible without the sacrifice of those who serve proudly in times of crisis to achieve the extraordinary.”

George, who at the time was a Boatswain’s Mate 2nd Class, was on the USS Vestal (AR-4) when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. The ship was moored alongside the USS Arizona (BB-39) when George noticed six Sailors stranded on the sinking USS Arizona. George used a mooring line to help the Sailors escape.

Two of the six Sailors that George saved that day, Don Stratton and Lauren Bruner, were in attendance at the ceremony to see their rescuer honored.

“There can be no greater testament to Joe George’s heroism than that of the Stratton and Bruner families,” Carter said. “I’m humbled to be standing before members of the greatest generation and even more humbled to be presenting an award for heroic action 76 years ago.

Accepting the award on George’s behalf was his daughter, JoeAnn Taylor, who “worked tirelessly” with the Stratton family and many others to finally see her father honored for his valor.

“I feel so many emotions right now — pride, honor, excitement and just relief,” Taylor said. “My father would not want a bunch of recognition if he were here today, but my mother would be proud that he was finally honored.”

George was 19 when he joined the Navy in 1935. He passed away in 1996. According to his daughter, he didn’t speak much about that day to her or others.

“My dad stepped up to be the real man he was at a time these survivors so desperately needed him,” Taylor said. “I am so very proud of him for doing what was right and honorable in that moment in time.”

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