A sailor from Naval Air Station Whidbey Island has received national recognition by the Armed Services YMCA.
Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Wayne Papalski, who serves with NASWI Search and Rescue, was recognized Nov. 4 as an Angel of the Battlefield at the ASYMCA’s annual Angel of the Battlefield Gala.
The event honors the individual men and women on the front lines who are saving lives and have demonstrated extraordinary courage. The Angels Gala is the only event specifically recognizing military medical personnel.
“I was nominated for a few rescues that I did and some of the prior stuff I did right before coming here when I was deployed,” said Papalski, who is from Newark, New Jersey.
Papalski said he appreciates the rare recognition for medical professionals serving on active duty.
“It’s an honor,” said Papalski. “The frontline, pre-hospital people usually don’t get honored, but it’s not a job you do looking for recognition.”
He credits the sailors he works with at NASWI for earning this award.
“It’s a good recognition for my crew and people who are on the missions knowing that people actually look out and care about what we do,” said Papalski. “I wish all of us could get recognized, but it’s a medical award.”
The ASYMCA has honored more than 450 medics, corpsmen, and para-rescuemen for their exemplary service to date.
SAR operates three MH-60S helicopters from NASWI as search and rescue platforms for the squadrons and personnel assigned to the installation. The base also has an agreement to assist Washington State with medical evacuations and search and rescue activities.