DAHLGREN, Va. –
“Mike! Quit playing!” In a panic, those were the words yelled by Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division’s (NSWCDD) Stuart Lunsford, a systems safety technician in the Readiness and Training Systems Department, as his friend and colleague experienced a heart attack.
It was March 26, 2021, while Lunsford and his friend were discussing their NCAA tournament brackets. Mike Reading began to go into cardiac arrest and Lunsford sprang into action. Relying on his experience as an Army combat medic, Lunsford was about to begin performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) on Reading and called 911. The operator immediately pinpointed Lunsford’s location and told him that there were six firefighters in the same parking lot.
“They came and took over the situation and were able to get his heart beating again,” said Lunsford as he recalled that day. “It was such a relief to know he was still alive.”
That relief would be fleeting as Reading passed away on March 27, 2021. Due to the lifesaving efforts of Lunsford and the firefighters, Reading’s family spent his final moments with him and received closure before his passing.
“It’s still very difficult to talk about,” said Lunsford. “He was my best friend.”
Lunsford will receive the Department of the Navy Meritorious Civilian Service Award (MCSA) for his actions during a difficult situation. The MCSA is the third highest Navy civilian award.
Additionally, the timeliness of his efforts provided the opportunity for organ donation, giving the gift of life to many people in need, according to the award citation. Reading’s donated organs gave life to five people, who are now alive today in large part due to Lunsford’s quick response.
Lunsford has been a part of NSWCDD since 2011. Prior to that he was a combat-wounded veteran in the U.S. Army. A happenstance meeting with then Commander, Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) Vice Adm. Kevin McCoy, landed Lunsford the opportunity to become a member of the Dahlgren team.
“He saved me. He really did,” Lunsford explained. “I didn’t know what I was going to do when I got out of the Army, so I’m forever grateful to Vice Adm. McCoy for this opportunity.”
As the now-retired McCoy explained, Lunsford is the consummate professional who loves his country and his fellow man.
“Stuart is a great example of how much our wounded warriors bring to the NAVSEA team every day,” said McCoy. “I am extremely proud to have served with men and women like Stuart. NAVSEA and our Navy are so much better because of Stuart and his fellow wounded warriors who give back and continue to serve our nation every day.”