Governor Rick Scott continued his four city “Honoring Florida Veterans Tour” in Cocoa and awarded 274 Florida veterans with the Governor’s Veterans Service Medal for their service to Florida and the nation. The Governor also highlighted funding included in the Fighting for Florida’s Future budget that supports active military, veterans and their families.
Governor Scott said, “I’m proud to honor more American heroes by presenting them with the Veterans Service Medal today on our ‘Honoring Florida Veterans Tour’. These individuals dedicated their lives to protecting the families of our great nation. On behalf of all Floridians, we express our nation’s gratitude.”
The Governor highlighted the following Florida veterans at today’s ceremony in Cocoa:
Captain Donn Weaver
Captain Donn Weaver served in the United States Army Infantry where he earned the National Defense Service Medal, Army Commendation Medal and the Expert Infantry Badge. After the Army, he attended graduate school at Florida State University and went on to spend 40 years in foreign service traveling to 104 countries and learning five languages. He returned to Cocoa Beach for retirement where he volunteers with several veteran organizations, including the Brevard Veterans Memorial Center where he served as past president and expansion chairman. He is a Gold Star Father, whose youngest son, Lieutenant Todd Weaver, US Army Airborne Ranger, was killed in combat in Afghanistan in September 2010.
Specialist Sebastian Padilla
Son of a Vietnam veteran, Specialist Sebastian Padilla enlisted in the Army to follow in his father’s footsteps of serving his country. After completing basic training in 2015, he went on to join the Police Academy and graduated in 2016. After graduation, he deployed to Djibouti, Africa to be a part of the Detainee Operations group where he earned the French Desert Commando badge. He currently is in the process of becoming an officer at the Apopka Police Department.
Specialist Marcus Birkenmeyer
Specialist Marcus Birkenmeyer knew from a young age that he wanted to join the military and became a member of the Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps in high school. While in college he received an Army Reserve Officers’ Training Corps scholarship and paused his studies to enlist in the National Guard in 2014. After returning from training, he decided to continue to pursue his education at Stetson University where he currently studies Business Systems and Analytics with minors in Sports Business and Military Science. He plans to commission into Military Intelligence or Aviation within the Florida National Guard.
Honoring Florida Veterans Tour
Governor Rick Scott today kicked off his four city “Honoring Florida Veterans” tour in Panama City this morning and awarded 49 Florida veterans with the Governor’s Veterans Service Medal for their service to Florida and the nation. The Governor also highlighted funding included in the Fighting for Florida’s Future budget that supports active military, veterans and their families. The Governor will also be stopping in The Villages, Cocoa and Wauchula during his tour.
Governor Scott said, “This week, we celebrated America’s independence and the freedom that we enjoy because of the brave men and women who have served our country. It is important that we continue to appreciate and honor the members of our Armed Forces not just on holidays, but every day. I’m incredibly proud to recognize these American heroes who dedicated their lives to our great nation and present them with the Veterans Service Medal today.”
Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis said, “As we celebrated Independence Day this week, we must never forget the service and sacrifice of those who have courageously served our country. It was an honor to join in recognizing these brave men and women.”
The Governor highlighted the following Florida veterans at today’s ceremony in Panama City:
Staff Sergeant William Yaeger Brookes
Staff Sergeant William Brookes enlisted in the Florida Army National Guard in 2002 and later attended Airborne, Air Assault and Pathfinder specialty training schools. During his 15 years of military service, he held multiple positions in the 1-153rd Cavalry Squadron of the 53rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team including rifleman, machine gunner and team leader. Staff Sergeant Brookes also supported deployments to Afghanistan, Kuwait and Guatemala and was recognized with the Combat Infantry Badge. Following his active duty, Staff Sergeant Brookes continues to serve the state as a Florida Wildlife Commission law enforcement officer.
Sergeant Tyler Smith
Sergeant Tyler Smith began his military career in 2006 as Calvary Scout in the Florida Army National Guard. He has served in many roles and leadership positions including, Cavalry Scout, Cavalry Vehicle Driver, Improved Target Acquisition System (ITAS) Gunner, and Team Leader in A Troop of the 1st Squadron 153rd Cavalry Regiment and his current job as a Florida Army National Guard fleet mechanic. Since enlisting 11 years ago, Sergeant Smith has deployed in support of Operations Iraqi Freedom, and New Dawn supporting Operations in Kuwait, Africa and Iraq, and has served in nearly every state activation.
Maxine McIlroy Mann
Maxine McIlroy Mann was born in Wichita, Kansas and joined the World War II women’s branch of the United States Naval Reserve, known as the Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service (WAVES) after its founding in 1942. Maxine attended boot camp in Chicago and became a life guard for the Navy. Following her military service, Maxine went to college and became a Certified Flying Instructor. Currently, she resides at Clifford C. Sims State Veterans Home in Panama City where she enjoys spending her time as an artist.
This week, to honor our nation’s veterans, Governor Rick Scott will kick off the four city “Honoring Florida Veterans” tour. Tomorrow, July 6 he will visit Panama City and The Villages to honor veterans with the Governor’s Veterans Service Medal.
This tour will also highlight the Fighting for Florida’s Future budget that includes more than $60 million in total funding to support active military, veterans and their families.
WHEN: 9:00 AM CDT
WHERE: Florida National Guard Armory
3121 North Lisenby Ave.
Panama City, FL 32406
WHEN: 3:00 PM EDT
WHERE: Eisenhower Recreational Center
3560 Buena Vista Blvd
The Villages, FL 32163
*The Governor will also make stops Friday in Cocoa and Wauchula. Details on times and locations will be announced tomorrow. *