News Release: Florida Governor Press Office
June 30, 2014
FT. MYERS, Fla. - Governor Rick Scott today, joined by Florida National Guard Leader Colonel John Rooney, Florida Department of Veterans Affairs Executive Director Mike Prendergast, and Liz Barton, Port Charlotte Home Administrator awarded 146 Florida veterans with the Governor’s Veterans Service Award for their service to Florida and the nation.
Governor Scott said, “We can never fully repay our debt of gratitude to the brave men and women who served and protected our freedoms. The Governor’s Veterans Service Award serves as a testament of thanks from Floridians everywhere.”
Mike Prendergast, Executive Director for the Florida Department of Veterans’ Affairs, said, “We had an excellent event today paying tribute to the local veterans and guardsmen in the Fort Myers community. Our National Guard hosts, along with other local outreach organizations, did a great job supporting and honoring our heroes.”
The ceremony was held at Battery B, 3rd Battalion 265th Air Defense Artillery Regiment in Ft. Myers. During the ceremony, Governor Scott highlighted the service of Florida veterans, Russell Winsett and Mario Grossi.
Russell Winsett is a 20-year Navy veteran who saw combat nine times in the Pacific, moving between the Philippines, Guam and Japan. Through binoculars, Russell actually saw the famous flag rising on Mt. Suribachi during the Battle of Iwo Jima. He retired as a “Chief Petty Officer,” and went to work for the United States Postal Service. The Pearl Harbor Survivor later retired as a postmaster.
Mario Grossi served in the Army where he was assigned to the Eighth Infantry Division. In June of 1944, his division landed on Omaha Beach. He also fought in the Battle of Hurtgen Forest and the Battle of the Bulge. After retiring from service Mario returned to college and started his own insurance company. He has since retired and now lives in Bonita Springs.
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.”