LEDYARD, Conn. – A Sailor assigned to PCU Iowa (SSN 797) saved an elderly man’s life while volunteering as a firefighter responding to a call, July 9, 2019.
Senior Chief Culinary Specialist (Submarine) Mark Shipley is chief of the boat onboard PCU Iowa (SSN 797) and volunteers with the Gales Ferry Fire Department when not on duty. On a balmy summer night, Shipley and his fellow firefighters responded to a 911 call.
“I started off doing firefighting before I joined the Navy,” said Shipley of his volunteer history. “I joined when I was 20 and got back into the fire service in 2014. It was a call for a person with chest pains. When we arrived on scene, Captain Nick Bosam and I entered the house and went upstairs. When we turned the corner we found the person, who had collapsed. We started doing CPR, put them on a stretcher and got them into an ambulance. Captain Nick had me do compressions all the way to the hospital. We were pumping his chest the whole way.”
Shipley said he and the other firefighters later learned more about the man’s condition.
“We turned over with the nurses and went out to clean the ambulance,” said Shipley. “While we were doing that we learned they had gotten a rhythm. A couple weeks later we found out the patient made it. It feels pretty good, it’s a neat experience.”
Tony Saccone, fire chief of the Gales Ferry Volunteer Fire Company, talked about Shipley’s volunteer service with the fire company and his life saving actions that night.
“Senior Shipley is one of our volunteers in our Ledyard Gales Ferry District,” said Saccone. “He’s a very active member with us. He’s moving through the ranks to get qualified to drive all the trucks, he’s medically certified, firefighter certified, he’s aggressively gone out to get those certifications while he is chief of the boat. A 911 call went out for an older gentleman who had severe difficulty breathing. When the EMTs got to the scene, the gentleman was conscious and alert but during that time he went unconscious. He had cardiac arrest. They immediately started CPR and set up a defibrillator to check for a pulse. They had to move him down the stairs, which is never easy when the person is unconscious. The ambulance always looks for assistance to transport. We don’t transport, but Mark stepped up and started CPR in the back of the ambulance all the way to [Lawrence & Memorial] Hospital. By the time they got there, the man had gained a pulse and is alive and well today thanks to Mark’s outstanding work.”
For his service to community and nation, Shipley was honored with a ceremony held at the Submarine Force Library and Museum received a Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal, gold star in lieu of second award. The crew of Iowa stood at attention in the torpedo room of the museum while Commanding Officer Cmdr. Quentin James presented the award to Shipley. Shipley’s seven-year-old son, Luke, pinned the award on him. Also assembled were firefighters from Gales Ferry and other companies in the area to congratulate one of their own.
“Senior Chief Shipley embodies the ethos of my command philosophy, which is trust and honor, be excellent people, citizen Sailors,” said James after the ceremony. “He takes this concept of service to the country to the Nth degree out into the community. He is an excellent example to the crew of what it means to be a citizen in a neighborhood and in a community by volunteering above and beyond his responsibility to the Navy. I received a letter back in October from the fire chief that gave the account Senior Shipley was awarded for and I knew I had to recognize him for what he did as a Sailor so his family could be proud of him and he could be proud, but more so for the crew. They can see what their leadership truly is like and to be an example of how they should look and behave to be a citizen.”
On a typical July night, a man’s life became endangered, but in part thanks to Shipley he is alive and well today. From leadership beneath the waves defending the liberty at seas to protecting American lives at home, Senior Chief Mark Shipley demonstrates a model volunteer spirit.