A new Navy Ensign commissioned through the Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps (NROTC) Atlanta Consortium and recent graduate of Georgia State University was awarded for heroism June 14 in the O’Keefe building’s Joint Forces auditorium here on the campus of Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech).
Ensign Sean Barner, from Stone Mountain, Ga., was awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Medal for his actions on May 3, 2009.
Barner intervened and stopped two armed assailants during an attempted robbery and then provided immediate medical assistance by applying tourniquets to one of the gun shot wounded victims.
The incident took place in College Park, Ga., while Barner attended a party with five men and four women. Two masked and armed men entered the apartment while Barner and a friend were outside getting some fresh air. Upon returning to the apartment, Barner was met by the two armed robbers who had rounded-up the men and women in the living room.
After being robbed of their personal belongings, the six men were ordered to a back bedroom while two women were taken to a second bedroom with one assailant while the other two women were taken to the living room with the other assailant.
In the back bedroom, Barner and the other five men overheard the perpetrator’s plan to rape the women and shoot all the victims.
“Knowing that this was not a nice area of town, I brought along a firearm which I left in my book bag,” said Barner, who is licensed under the Georgia Weapons Carry laws. “I was lucky that the room I was locked in had my book bag and had not been searched.”
Barner escaped the bedroom with his firearm and went to the living room where he fired several shots at one of the armed assailants causing him to flee.
Barner then went to the bedroom where two females were being held with by the other assailant. He kicked down the door and entered the room, shooting the assailant and causing him to flee out the window.
That assailant was later found dead near the apartment from gunshot wounds. One of the females was also caught in the ensuing crossfire and received gunshot wounds.
“I’m glad I took my Marine Corps training seriously,” said Barner. “I was blessed to have the ability to handle the situation the way I did and prevent anyone else from getting further injured.”
At the time in 2009, Barner was an active duty Marine attending Georgia State University as part of the Marine Enlisted Commissioning Education Program (MECEP) before switching to the Navy’s Seaman to Admiral (STA-21) program, and a member of the Atlanta Consortium NROTC unit.
His quick and decisive actions saved the life of one of the victims and prevented possible harm or death to the others.
The Navy and Marine Corps medal is one medal above the Bronze Star. It is considered the highest non-combat medal a Sailor or Marine can be awarded. “It was great to receive this award, but I hope it shows that non combat Marines or Sailors can be put in crazy situations, and with the right training everything will work out okay in the end,” Barner said.
The unit’s executive officer, Lt. Col. Steve Sims, called Barner a hero. “I am very proud of Ensign Barner. He is a hard worker, extremely diligent and a huge team player in the unit. It was great that he got to receive the medal with the victims and his family in attendance.”
Following the ceremony, Barner’s orders directed him to report to his first naval assignment as a Surface Warfare officer on board the Wasp-class multipurpose amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island (LHD 8).
The NROTC program was established to educate and train qualified young men and women for service as commissioned officers in the Navy and Marine Corps. The NROTC scholarship program fills a vital need in preparing mature young men and women for leadership and management positions in an increasingly technical Navy and Marine Corps.
The Atlanta Consortium is made up of schools that belong to NROTC units from Georgia Tech and Morehouse University. Georgia State University is a cross-town affiliate of the Georgia Tech unit.
For more information about NROTC, including eligibility requirements and a list of colleges and universities, visit https://www.nrotc.navy.mil/.