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DINFOS inducts two Marines into Hall of Heroes

By Cameron Rogers Defense Information School


The Defense Information School inducted two fallen Marines into the Hall of Heroes at Fort George G. Meade, Maryland, July 27, 2015.

Cpl. Sara Medina, 23, and Lance Cpl. Jacob Hug, 22, were both combat camera Marines assigned to the III Marine Expeditionary Force at Okinawa, Japan. They were killed in a helicopter crash in Nepal on May 12, 2015.

“Both Marines died doing their duty,” Army Col. Martin Downie, DINFOS commandant, said. “They assumed the same risk as their fellow Marines when they boarded that helicopter.”

Medina and Hug were the 127th and 128th names added to the Hall of Heroes. First unveiled in 2006, the hall honors men and women who died in the line of duty while working in a public affairs or visual information job specialty.

Both Medina and Hug attended DINFOS before being assigned to the III MEF. Medina trained as a combat photographer at the school in 2011, while Hug trained as a combat videographer in 2013.

Prior to the crash, they were documenting the humanitarian relief operations in Nepal for the earthquake in April that killed more than 9,000 people. Four other Marines and two Nepalese soldiers died in the crash as well.

“They died telling the story of our military members as they worked to bring relief to a nation devastated by natural disaster,” Downie said.

Originally from Phoenix, Arizona, Hug enlisted in the Marine Corps in 2012. He was sent from Okinawa to assist U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Pacific Combat Camera in Exercise Cobra Gold 2015, an annual multi-national military exercise co-sponsored by the U.S. and Thailand.

“My first impression of him was he was kind of a quiet, nerdy kid,” Sgt. Matthew Troyer, DINFOS instructor and master of ceremony, said. Troyer and Hug lived and worked together for 45 days, with Hug working as Troyer’s videographer.

Troyer continued, “Hug grew on me fast, as I found him to be highly dependable and one of my favorite things, he never complained and was a fire-and-forget type of Marine. He was a great kid, and I would have loved to have him on my team again.”

Medina enlisted in the Marines Corps in 2010 as a native of Aurora, Illinois.

According to Mr. Michael Lujan, Quantico Combat Camera director, she took great pride in being a Marine, you hear that phrase being a Marine 24/7. “Cpl. Sarah Medina was always a Marine. There was never a second in her life she was not a Marine.”

Both Marines called home to their mothers on Mother’s Day, but no one could know it would be the last time they would speak, Downie said.

The names listed in the Hall of Heroes are not organized by rank, service, or operation. Instead, they are left in the way they served: together, in the same way that they were part of a single team with one mission. There are no blank spaces on the wall, only blank plates.

The earliest casualties in the Hall of Heroes date back to the Korean War, as that was the first conflict in which the U.S. Armed Forces listed casualties according to their occupations.

Troyer said that the purpose of the Hall of Heroes is to educate the young visual information and public affairs specialists who come to DINFOS to learn about their career fields. Specifically, they want them to realize that their jobs are not for the faint of heart, that their jobs are as important as any other career field in the military, and that they are not to take them lightly.

During the ceremony, Downie said that the loss of Medina and Hug serves as a reminder that the men and women trained at DINFOS are on the front lines every day, ready to go into harm’s way in order to succeed at their mission.

 “Their deaths poignantly remind us that life is precious, and that it is the duty of the living to remember and to honor them,” he said.