Eight minutes was all it took for a convicted felon to breach three layers of base security and kill Sharon Blair’s 24-year-old son, Petty Officer Second Class Mark Mayo, at Naval Station Norfolk.
“That was far too much time,” Blair says. “Why wasn’t he stopped?”
It’s a question seven months later she’s still asking.
The Navy has yet to release its investigation into her son’s death.
“I just feel like I’m stuck and I need to get out,” Blair says.
Blair says she’s tried time and time again to find out what happened from Navy investigators, but says she’s still waiting.
“Certainly some of the questions, I know within my gut that the Navy could answer those questions,” Blair says.
As the days pass what comforts, Blair says, is knowing her youngest son died a hero.
“I’ve never looked at a flag as I’ve looked at this one,” Blair says, pointing out the folded American flag encased on a shelf in her living room. “This was the flag that was draped over his casket.”
Blair says it’s the little things her son kept Sharon says she now cherishes the most.
“That was a just because, just because I love him,” she says.
Going through his belongings, Blair came across stacks of cards she’d sent him.
“When I found these cards, I knew that Mark knew that we loved him and he appreciated this.”
According to federal sources and a NewsChannel 3 investigation, this is what happened on March 24th:
Master At Arms Mark Mayo and another sailor were on patrol. Mayo pulled his vehicle up to the checkpoint at Pier 1. The sentry there moved traffic cones so Mayo’s truck could drive onto the pier. Moments later, the pier sentry noticed a man slip past the checkpoint and head down the pier. The man ignored the sentry’s calls. The sentry radioed the Mahan.
Sailors watched Jeffrey Tyrone Savage stumbling down the pier, at times talking to himself and other times screaming. Some remembered Savage flailing his arms. Savage walked to the end of the pier and looked into containers. He reversed and stopped briefly at the brow of the hospital ship Comfort before heading to the Mahan. Savage walked up the destroyer’s brow.
Mayo and the sailor with him pursued Savage up the ramp as the ship’s watchstander tried to keep him from boarding. At one point, the watchstander drew her pistol. Savage yelled “give me that gun,” the watchstander raised the firearm to point it at him but could not disengage the safety. Another sailor yelled at her to shoot, but Savage snatched away the gun. Mayo and his assistant wrestled with Savage, who pulled away. Mayo shoved the disarmed sailor to the ground and protected her while Savage shot him. Other sailors opened fire. In moments, both Mayo and Savage were dead.
Now Mayo’s mom wants to know how within just eight minutes, the failure of three separate rings of security cost her son’s life. Protecting the destroyer wasn’t even his assigned job.
“I want to know why it was such a lack of duty,” Blair says.
The investigation is now in its final stage, in the hands of top Navy officials, however we have no timeline on when it will be finished.
Standing under a tree planted in honor of her son in Hagerstown, Maryland, Blair spends her time reflecting on how he gave his life.
“I want to make sure that he’s getting a hero’s investigation,” she says.