Florida Gov. Rick Scott recognized 364 Florida veterans – men and women who had served in conflicts from World War II to Vietnam to Iraq and Afghanistan – with the Governor's Veterans Service Award at the DeLand National Guard Armory on Tuesday. This is the second awards ceremony for servicemembers in January, ABC 7 reported.
"Last week, we recognized National Guard Day at the Florida Capitol to honor the men and women who are currently serving our state and defending freedom around the world," said Scott at the ceremony. "It is exciting today to award more than 360 Florida veterans for their courage and countless sacrifices in defense of our country. We are incredibly grateful for their service and must take every possible opportunity to thank our American heroes."
Local legislators turned out to show their personal gratitude with handshakes and thanks as veterans moved down the reception line. Volusia County councilwoman Deb Denys was among them.
"It was so wonderful," Denys told The Daytona Beach News-Journal. "After two hours shaking hands, I'd cried all my makeup off."
Sgt. Howard Ray Metzger Jr. was one of the veterans honored by the governor, ABC 7 reported. After joining the Army in 1991, Metzger served in Korea and Texas – where he earned two Army Commendation Medals – and later in Afghanistan, from 2004 to 2005, where he received a third commendation medal for assisting in the country's first democratic election.
Mike White was also in attendance. A veteran of two combat tours in Vietnam, where he served as both a helicopter crew chief and a military policeman, White received a Silver Star, a Bronze Star, and four hard-earned Purple Hearts. In his life after service, he entered a career in law enforcement while constantly advocating for his fellow veterans.