News Release: Governor Rick Scott's Press Office
August 13, 2014
THE VILLAGES, Fla. - Governor Rick Scott and First Lady Ann Scott today, joined by Major General Emmett R. Titshaw and Mike Prendergast, FDVA Executive Director, awarded 513 Florida veterans with the Governor’s Veterans Service Award for their service to Florida and the nation.
Governor Scott said, “During today’s ceremonies, we presented a total of 513 Florida veterans from The Villages with the Governor’s Veterans Service Award. Florida has the third largest population of veterans in the nation, and we can never thank them enough for their bravery and selflessness in protecting our state and nation.”
First Lady Ann Scott said, "As a daughter, sister and wife of military veterans, I have always admired those who sacrifice their own comfort and time with their own families to protect others. The men and women who serve in United States military are true heroes and I am honored to join Rick to present them with the Governor’s Veterans Service Award."
Mike Prendergast, FDVA Executive Director, said, “It's a real privilege to be here at The Villages today to honor veterans. This special community that's home to more than 13,000 veterans has shown us a warm welcome as we pay tribute to these great heroes.”
The ceremonies were held at the Eisenhower Center in The Villages. During the ceremonies, Governor Scott highlighted the service of Florida veterans, David Gomez, Catherine Herrick, Bill Brown, and Dave Holland.
Originally from California, David Gomez joined the Army in 2004 and served as a combat medic in Iraq. While overseas, Gomez’s close friend and fellow soldier lost his life during a mission. After his deployment, Gomez returned to Fort Irwin in California to train future combat medics before being stationed in South Korea. He retired from the Army after seven years of service and attended college before moving to Florida through Combat Veterans to Careers. Gomez graduated from the Fire Academy program at Lake Technical Center in June and currently volunteers as a firefighter for The Villages; he will also be starting paramedic school this fall.
Catherine Herrick is originally from Milwaukee, Wisconsin but attended boot camp in Orlando after joining the Navy. After completing boot camp and radio school, Herrick was stationed in Guam and was responsible for maintaining the Navy’s communications systems in the area. Herrick also worked in special communications in Italy and Spain where she responded to submarine distress messages. She served a total of eight years in the Navy, and later retired to Florida.
Bill Brown was born in Ohio and graduated from Celina High School in 1941. Although he was too young to join the military, Brown chose to volunteer and joined the Signal Corp. He was later recruited to join the Ghost Army, a top-secret tactical deception unit recruited from across the United States during World War II. The existence of the group was kept a secret for 52 years, and did not come into light until 1997. The Ghost Army’s missions helped save the lives of thousands and played a vital role in several Allied victories in Europe. After serving for nearly three years, Brown returned home and joined some of his fellow local veterans in founding a local Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) in Ohio before moving to Florida.
Dave Holland was born in Alabama and joined the Army shortly after graduating high school in 1964. After being stationed across the continent in Alaska, Holland was on the committee responsible for talking with the soldiers before their deployments to Vietnam. He was often one of the last people to speak to soldiers before their dangerous deployment. Holland retired from the Army as a specialist fourth class eight years later. Thanks to the opportunities provided to him by his military service, Holland was able to return to school and receive his bachelor’s degree, and later moved to The Villages.
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.”