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Greatest privilege of my command here so far

U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Melvin Morris, Medal of Honor recipient, his wife, Mary, stand next to a live-size bronze statue of himself; standing arms crossed, in his 1960's era Army fatigues during a ceremony, which included an unveiling, May 14, 2015, at Riverfront Park in Cocoa, Fla. The President, in the name of Congress, has awarded more than 3,400 Medals of Honor to our nation's bravest Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen since the decoration's creation in 1861. (Photo courtesy/Florida Today)

U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Melvin Morris, Medal of Honor recipient, his wife, Mary, stand next to a live-size bronze statue of himself; standing arms crossed, in his 1960's era Army fatigues during a ceremony, which included an unveiling, May 14, 2015, at Riverfront Park in Cocoa, Fla. The President, in the name of Congress, has awarded more than 3,400 Medals of Honor to our nation's bravest Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen since the decoration's creation in 1861. (Photo courtesy/Florida Today)

PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- Created early in the Civil War, the Medal of Honor is awarded to those who distinguished themselves "conspicuously by gallantry and intrepidity" in combat with an enemy of the United States. 

Last Thursday evening at Riverfront Park in Cocoa, I was watching first-hand as one of our own was recognized for doing just that for his country. And then some.

I just stood there in awe and watched Sgt. 1st Class Melvin Morris, standing close to his wife, Mary, when a live-size bronze statue was unveiled of him, standing arms crossed, in his 1960's era Army fatigues.

It literally brought tears to my eyes.

For those who don't know the story, let me back up a bit and begin by telling you that President Barack Obama awarded Sgt. 1st Class Morris, at the White House, the Medal of Honor in March 2014.  He is Brevard County's only living veteran to have earned this distinctive award.

And over the past 14 months or so, I have had the distinct honor to meet him and his wife quite a few times at various events around the Space Coast.

And every single time I walk away thinking something special about this true American hero -- he is the most humble person I have ever met.

That's also exactly what I told Melvin and Mary - along with about 250 of his best friends --  during my role as keynote speaker for their congratulatory dinner at the Cocoa Civic Center last Thursday evening.

And what made this such an honor for me to take part in it, was that I was personally asked to do so by a man - and his wife - I have come to respect so much.

It is the greatest privilege of my command here so far. And I do not say that lightly.

Let me offer big kudos to the Brevard County Civilian and Military Council who led this fantastic effort from the ground up. Those involved in the project -- and those who donated to have it built -- should be proud of themselves. We're proud of you too!

In closing, he won't tell you so I will; that Sgt. 1st Melvin Morris made SURE a fallen hero would be brought home from that faraway Vietnam rice field on Sept. 17, 1969.

He risked his own life doing so - he was even shot three times himself - but when asked about his heroic actions he had this to say.

"You don't leave a soldier behind."

"You don't leave a soldier behind." (I know I said this twice)

And that's exactly what I would expect him to say.

True to form.

Stay Focused, Sharks!