News Release: Rick Scott's Press Office
August 14, 2014
MELBOURNE, Fla. - Governor Rick Scott today, joined by Colonel Valeria Gonzalez-Kerr and Colonel Mike Prendergast FDVA Executive Director, awarded 281 Florida veterans with the Governor’s Veterans Service Award for their service to Florida and the nation.
Governor Scott said, “Today, we honored 281 Melbourne veterans to show our gratitude to all of the courageous Florida men and woman who have selflessly served our country. The Governor’s Veterans Service Award displays our greatest appreciation for the service and sacrifices that have protected our freedom and opportunities.”
Colonel Mike Prendergast FDVA Executive Director, said, “Everyday we work hard to support veterans in local communities and in our state veterans' nursing homes. We especially enjoy the opportunity these ceremonies offer to pay special tribute to Florida's veterans who selflessly and courageously served our great country.”
The ceremony was held at the Melbourne National Guard Armory. During the ceremony, Governor Scott highlighted the service of Florida veterans, Melvin Morris and Tori Parry.
Melvin MorrisMelvin Morris was born in Oklahoma, and entered the Oklahoma Army National Guard in 1959 before later joining the Army. Morris became one of the first soldiers to don the 'green beret' in 1961 and volunteered twice for deployments to Vietnam during the war. In 1969, Morris commanded the Third Company, Third Battalion of the IV Mobile Strike Force in Vietnam. During this time, Morris led a group of soldiers to recover the body of a fallen team commander. After two of the men accompanying him were wounded, Morris escorted them back to safety before continuing the assault with only his men’s fire as cover. He destroyed the enemy positions with hand grenades and eliminated four bunkers before reaching the fallen team commander. He was shot three times as he carried the fallen soldier but did not stop until reaching friendly lines. Morris also retrieved maps and documents that the fallen soldier was carrying – preventing them from getting into the hands of the enemy. For bravely risking his life and refusing to leave a fellow American soldier behind, Morris received the Distinguished Service Cross in April 1970, before returning to Vietnam for a second tour. Morris retired from the Army in 1985, and received the Medal of Honor last March during a ceremony in the White House for his service and courage.
Tori Parry is a 16 year Army veteran who enlisted into the Florida Army National Guard in January 1998. Since September 11, 2001, he has been deployed to Afghanistan three times in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. He has served in multiple positions, such as team leader and platoon sergeant, and assisted with leading various security missions. Parry was awarded the Bronze Star and Army Combat Action Badge as well as various other commendations and awards for his service. For the past seven years, Parry has further served Florida families as a City of Palm Bay Police Officer in the Special Operations Division.
Florida Veterans Medal
The “Governor’s Veterans Service Award” honors Floridians who have served in the U.S. Military. The front of the medal depicts the Great Seal of the State of Florida. The back of the medal displays the five seals representing the five branches of U.S. Military with an inscription that reads “Honoring Those Who Served.”