WASHINGTON (NNS) -- A Pre-Commissioning Unit Arlington (LPD 24) Sailor who performed heroic actions in the Middle East while assigned to a guided-missile destroyer earlier this year, received the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs' (JINSA) Grateful Nation Award Nov. 7.
At an awards ceremony held in the Ronald Reagan Building, Lt. (j.g.) Tyler Haught was recognized for his service as the primary combat first aid response boat officer of the special boarding team aboard USS Sterett (DDG 104) during counter-piracy operations in the North Arabian Sea from Feb. 22-25.
"His devotion to duty and the Navy makes Lt. (j.g.) Haught an exemplary naval officer," said James Colbert, JINSA's director for policy. "He put himself into harm's way to protect our nation, and is an inspiration for other service members engaged in today's conflicts."
On the morning of Feb. 22, Sterett was monitoring the Sailing Vessel Quest, where pirates held four Americans hostage.
Haught, a small boat casualty evacuation officer, was assigned to transport the Special Forces' combat medic boarding team to render assistance as necessary. Haught's small boat was lowered into the water and directed toward the captured vessel to deliver a response team of five U.S. Navy SEALs.
After U.S. Forces took control of the yacht, Haught and his team conducted medical evacuations of two critically injured hostages and assisted in the transfer of 15 suspected pirates from Quest to USS Enterprise (CVN 65). He also collected evidence from Quest, for the future prosecution of detained suspected pirates.
Sterett was tasked with transporting the captured vessel to Djibouti so the FBI could process the crime scene.
Due to extremely hazardous towing conditions, the boat team was directed to drive the vessel under its own power, a task was made more difficult by navigation, steering and communication equipment that had been damaged or destroyed by gunfire. Haught led his team to driving Quest more than 550 nautical miles, with deceased persons still aboard.
When a member of the boat team fell overboard, Haught maneuvered to recover the Sailor by personally operating both the helm and engines, separated by a distance of more than 10 feet.
After enduring three days of sleep deprivation, and numerous challenging mechanical and electrical issues, Haught delivered Quest to Djibouti Feb. 25, where the FBI completed their investigation.
"His ability to lead in a time of uncertainty combined with his dedication to the mission at the risk of his own safety surpassed my highest expectations," said Sterett Commanding Officer Cmdr. Rich McDaniel.
At the awards ceremony, Supreme Allied Commander, Europe Adm. James Stavridis presented the award to Haught and the other five recipients for 2011.
The Grateful Nation Award was established in 2003, and is presented annually to six young heroes for superior conduct. Honorees represent each of the five branches of the U.S. military and the U.S. Special Operations Command, and are chosen by their respective services.
"The award exemplifies the ethos of that service, and represents the accomplishments of every man and woman performing their jobs in this conflict," Colbert said. "It also helps connect the American public with our service members who are fighting in the air and sea, and on the ground."
More than 650 guests attended the ceremony, including Haught's parents, Kenneth and Cindy Haught, and Vice Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mark Ferguson.
"I am honored for being considered for and award of this magnitude," Haught said. "I'm grateful that I was able to successfully contribute to the mission we had to accomplish."
Haught, who transferred from Sterett in September and reported to Arlington later in the month, will serve as the engineering department's main propulsion division officer.
Under construction at Huntington Ingalls Industries shipyard, Arlington combines 21st century amphibious shipbuilding and warfighting technologies to support current and future Marine Corps aircraft and landing craft, and capable of transporting nearly 1,200 Sailors and Marines. The ship is named for Arlington County, Va. in honor of the 184 victims and heroes who lost their lives in the Sept.11, 2001 terrorist attack on the Pentagon.
Arlington is the eighth in Navy's San Antonio class of ships, designed to be the most survivable amphibious vessels ever put to sea. The third in the U.S. fleet to bear the name, Arlington will be commissioned in 2012 and homeported in Norfolk, Va.
"Lt. (j.g.) Christopher Haught is a hero by any standards," said Arlington Prospective Commanding Officer Cmdr. Darren Nelson. "His incredible accomplishments at his last command have been recognized at the highest levels of the U.S. Navy, and his assignment here is a great benefit to Arlington. We're fortunate to have him onboard, and I have no doubt he will continue to excel."
For more news from Pre-Commissioning Unit (PCU) Arlington (LPD 24), visit www.navy.mil/local/lpd24/.