Governor Rick Scott honored Staff Sergeant Melvin Morris, from Cocoa, and Private Miguel Armando “Nando” Vera, deceased, from Broward County, who were awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor today.
Governor Scott said, “Today, we join all Floridians as we honor Staff Sergeant Morris and Private Vera for their bravery and service to our country. America’s Armed Forces protect the liberty and freedom of our nation so all United States citizens can pursue their dreams. Florida stands proud to be home to two more distinguished Congressional Medal of Honor awardees. We salute and extend eternal gratitude to Staff Sergeant Morris, Private Vera and their families.”
Staff Sgt. Melvin Morris
Medal of Honor recipient Staff Sgt. Melvin Morris entered the Oklahoma Army National Guard in 1959 and later requested to join the active Army. He became one of the first Soldiers to don the “green beret” at the command of President John F. Kennedy, Fort Bragg, N.C., in 1961. Morris is being recognized for his valorous actions in connection with military operations involving conflict with an armed hostile force in the Republic of Vietnam.
He led an effort to recover a fallen comrade deep into enemy territory. Morris annihilated enemy positions, recovered more than one fallen comrade and saved the lives of others. After this day-long battle, and with three serious wounds, Morris was evacuated with his fallen comrades.
In addition to the Medal of Honor, Morris received the Distinguished Service Cross, Bronze Star Medal with one Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster, Purple Heart with one Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster, Meritorious Service Medal, Air Medal, Army Commendation Medal with “V” Device and one Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster, Army Good Conduct Medal Silver Clasp with one Loop, National Defense Service Medal, Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, Vietnam Service Medal with one Silver Star, Noncommissioned Officer Professional Development Ribbon with Numeral “3,” Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon with Numeral “4,” Combat Infantryman Badge, Master Parachutist Badge, Expert Marksmanship Badge with Rifle Bar, Special Forces Tab, Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross with Bronze Star, Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal with “60” Device, Vietnam Parachutist Badge, Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross Unit Citation with Palm Device, Republic of Vietnam Civil Actions Honor Medal Citation, First Class.
SSG Morris currently resides in Cocoa, FL.
Medal of Honor recipient Pvt. Miguel Armando “Nando” Vera was born in Puerto Rico. Vera joined the U.S. Army when he was 17-years-old. Vera is being recognized for his heroic actions against enemy aggressor forces at Chorwon, Korea, September 21, 1952. Vera’s unit was committed to assault and secure the right sector of “Old Baldy” and, although wounded in an earlier engagement, he voluntarily rejoined elements of the platoon. He maintained a determined position and poured crippling fire into enemy emplacements. He lost his life during this action. In addition to the Medal of Honor, Vera received the Distinguished Service Cross, Purple Heart, Army Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Korean Service Medal with two Bronze Service Stars, Combat Infantryman Badge, United Nations Service Medal, Republic of Korea-Korean War Service Medal, Wharang Distinguished Military Service Medal with Silver Star.
Pvt. Vera’s next of kin, his nephew, Joe Rodriguez, lives in the Ft. Lauderdale area.