Gov. Scott Honors 277 Veterans with Governor’s Veterans Service Award

Governor Rick Scott today, joined by Colonel Perry Hagaman and Alene Tarter, FDVA Director of Benefits and Assistance, awarded 277 Florida veterans with the Governor’s Veterans Service Award for their service to Florida and the nation.

Governor Scott said, “I am honored to be in Lakeland to recognize 277 local veterans today with the Governor’s Veterans Service Award. Our veterans protected the freedom and democracy of our nation, and Florida families have the opportunity to live the American Dream thanks to their great service and sacrifice.”

Alene Tarter, Director of Benefits and Assistance for the Florida Department of Veterans’ Affairs, said, “It’s always a great day when you get a chance to honor veterans. Polk County is home to more than 50,000 veterans and today we’re thankful to honor some of them for their military service and many sacrifices.”

The ceremony was held at the Lakeland National Guard Armory. During the ceremony, Governor Scott highlighted the service of Florida veterans, Mike O’Connor and Larry Herbert.

Mike O’Connor
Mike O’Connor attended Hillsborough High School in Tampa, and was still in high school when he enlisted in the Navy in December 1942. O’Connor was assigned to the USS Elmore, a ship that delivered troops on Pacific battlefields with the use of landing craft. His first experience in battle was landing troops at the Marshall Islands. O’Connor’s ship was among three selected to take Navy troops to shore and blow up coastline defenses during the battle for Okinawa in 1945. After the war ended, O’Connor continued to serve in the Navy and was part of a voyage to Antarctica carrying famous Navy explorer Admiral Richard Byrd. O’Connor retired from the Navy in 1948 and moved to Lakeland shortly thereafter where he worked for CSX railroad for 35 years.

Larry Herbert
Larry Herbert turned down an athletic scholarship to serve his country by enlisting in the United States Marine Corps. He was trained as an Infantryman, and deployed to Vietnam where he was wounded in combat. Upon returning home to Polk County, Herbert received his bachelor’s degree and raised five sons and a daughter with his wife Pamela. Herbert retired from the U.S. Postal Service, and currently serves as Chaplain and lifetime member of Chapter 535 of the Military Order of the Purple Heart.

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.”


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