DAYTONA BEACH — Governor Rick Scott, joined by Brig. Gen. James O. Eifert, assistant Adjutant General of the Florida Air National Guard and Executive Director of the Florida Department of Veterans’ Affairs, Retired Army Col. Mike Prendergast, awarded 137 Florida veterans with the Governor’s Veterans Service Award on Feb. 25 for their service to Florida and the nation.
“The freedoms and opportunities that all Americans enjoy are a result of the service of our brave veterans,” said Governor Scott. “This medal serves as a testament of thanks from Floridians everywhere.”
The ceremony was held at the Emory L. Bennett State Veterans’ Nursing Home in Daytona Beach, one of six veterans’ nursing homes in Florida. During the ceremony, Governor Scott highlighted the service of Florida veteran, Lieutenant Richard Oly.
Oly was born in St. Petersburg, Fla. on April 27, 1926. He attended college at the University of Minnesota for a year and a half before enlisting in the Marine Corps in 1942 at age 17. During World War II, Oly deployed to the Pacific theater. At war’s end, he returned to Minneapolis joining the Naval Reserves and the police force. He went back on active duty to later serve during the Korean War.
While in Korea, his headquarters came under attack. When enemy infantry overran a friendly unit, Oly ran out to the position without regard for his personal safety. His heroic actions forced the enemy unit to withdraw and following the incident, he carried wounded Marines to safety and to receive proper care.
Oly was wounded twice in later actions and was twice awarded the Purple Heart.
Oly returned to Minneapolis after serving in Korea, where he resumed his assignment as a policeman while serving in the Naval Reserves. He raised three children and retired from the police force after 27 years as a detective. Overall, he served a total of 47 years active and reserve duty in the Marine Corps.
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 the U.S. Military with an inscription that reads “Honoring Those Who Served.”