John L. Mullins recieved this Department of Defense Medal for Distinguished Public Service for his heroic action during a TNT explosion at the Radford Army Ammunition Plant in Radford, Virginia. On 31 May 1974, a blast injured 100 persons and caused $20 million in damages. Mr. Mullins, though suffering from head injuries, saved the life of a fellow worker by using his belt as a tourniquet on the man’s leg and helping him breathe. While the medal and the Virginia-based newspaper articles spell his last name as MULLINS, a newspaper near his hometown in West Virginia uses the correct spelling, which is MULLENS.
The gold Department of Defense Medal for Distinguished Public Service is the highest award that is presented by the Secretary of Defense, to a private citizen, politician, non-career federal employee, or foreign national. It is presented for exceptionally distinguished service of significance to the Department of Defense.