Governor Rick Scott today awarded 628 Florida veterans with the Governor’s Veterans Service Medal for their service to the state and the nation. Since 2013, Governor Scott has awarded more than 13,000 veterans with the Governor’s Veterans Service Medal.
Governor Scott said, “I’m proud to recognize these brave American heroes who dedicated their lives to protecting the families of our great nation. We will continue working to give back to our selfless veterans who have given so much to our state and country.”
- Governor Scott also highlighted investments in Florida’s active military, veterans and their families in his Securing Florida’s Future budget, including:
$200,000 for search and rescue vessels and protective equipment for our National Guardsmen to use during deployment;
- Nearly $8 million to begin operations at the Lake Baldwin State Veteran Nursing Home, which will allow this facility to serve more than 110 veterans in the coming year;
- Doubling the funding to $2 million for Building Homes for Heroes to build and modify homes for veterans who were severely injured while serving in Iraq and Afghanistan;
- $2 million for the Florida Defense Support Task Force, which helps support our military and defense communities and the many families who rely on them; and
- $2.7 million to support veterans looking to obtain employment, start their own businesses and make Florida their home, including $1 million for Veterans Florida to continue their mission of helping veterans find great jobs at Florida businesses.
The following Florida veterans were highlighted during today’s ceremony:
Colonel Darrell W. Katz
Colonel Darrell Katz enlisted in the United States Army in 1956 and served for 40 years, including 30 years as a commissioned officer where he served mostly in the Special Forces. His decades of service included tours in Vietnam and Desert Storm. Colonel Katz is a member of the Army Special Forces Hall of Fame at Fort Bragg, North Carolina and the Infantry Officer Candidate School Hall of Fame at Fort Benning, Georgia. His actions have been recognized with a Purple Heart, a Silver Star and the Legion of Merit among others for his dedicated service.
Private First-Class Robert G. “Bob” Black
Private First-Class Bob Black enlisted in the United States Army in August of 1951 and attended infantry basic training at Fort Dix, New Jersey. He was deployed to Korea during the Korean War as a light infantry leader and joined “A” Company, 9th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division assigned to a 57mm recoilless rifle squad. While serving in Korea, Private First-Class Black was injured in the line of duty. After he was injured he was assigned as the editor of the 2nd Infantry Division Newspaper and subsequently transferred to Stars and Stripes. His service has been recognized with the Combat Infantry Badge, Korean Service Medal with three battle stars and the Army Commendation Medal.
Private First-Class John H. MacPhee
Private First-Class John MacPhee was drafted into the United States Army in 1943 and attended basic training at Camp Blanding where he qualified as a sniper. He was assigned to the first wave of assault troops to land on Omaha Beach for the D-day invasion on June 6, 1944. During the invasion, Private First-Class MacPhee was wounded five times, his injuries were so severe that he was given Last Rites by a Catholic Priest. He has been recognized for his service with a Purple Heart, a Combat Infantry Badge, a Bronze Star and the French Legion of Honor.
Commander Edward Socha
Commander Edward Socha enlisted in the United States Navy in 1939 and was commissioned as an Ensign in 1944. He underwent Scout and Raider Training and was later stationed on the USS Maryland in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii on December 7, 1941 when the first Japanese plane attacked the base. Commander Socha served throughout the Pacific in various naval battles including the battle of Guadalcanal. His actions have been recognized with the American Defense Service Medal, World War II Victory Medal and the National Defense Service Medal.