Twenty veterans who have received the Medal of Honor will be in Charleston starting July 13 to talk with students, meet community leaders and recognize everyday citizens giving back to their country.
The service members from the Vietnam War through the War on Terror have formally confirmed for the various events July 13-14 hosted by the Congressional Medal of Honor Society — which is headquartered on the aircraft carrier Yorktown in Mount Pleasant.
They include David Bellavia, Patrick Brady, Sammy Davis, Drew Dix, Harold Fritz, Thomas Kelley, James Livingston, Walter Marm, James McCloughan, Robert Modrzejewski, Robert Patterson, Gary Rose, Ryan Pitts, Britt Slabinski, William Swenson, Brian Thacker, Michael Thornton, Jay Vargas, Matthew Williams and Kyle White.
Fourteen of the men fought in Vietnam and six of them served in the War on Terror. It's no small feat getting that many recipients of the award together, especially because only 67 recipients are living.
While the recipients will be praised for their valor during their visit to Charleston, the main purpose of the trip is to celebrate citizens who are giving back to their communities.
The veterans will present the 2020 and 2021 Citizen Honors Service Awards for Acts of Selfless Service on behalf of the Congressional Medal of Honor Society.
They include citizens helping their communities in Maine, New Jersey, Texas and California. The winners will gather at 5:30 p.m. July 14 during a dinner at the Belmond Charleston Place.
"For the Citizen Honors Awards each year, the Medal of Honor recipients come together to recognize service and commitment beyond the call of duty, not only on the battlefield, but also at home in the course of everyday life,” said Drew Dix, president of the Congressional Medal of Honor Society.
The recipients will also meet with Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg and receive keys to the city, attend a RiverDogs game, speak with cadets at The Citadel and host a panel about military values for veterans.
"When you have an opportunity to welcome and interact with Congressional Medal of Honor recipients, you don't pass it up," said RiverDogs President and General Manager Dave Echols. "We are thrilled to be hosting these decorated members of the military at the ballpark and want to thank the Congressional Medal of Honor Society and American Airlines for making the visit possible."
Each year, there are fewer living recipients as age catches up with survivors.
The Medal of Honor is the highest award for valor in action against an enemy that can be given to a someone serving in the armed services. The act of valor performed must be highlighted by personal bravery or self-sacrifice that clearly shows that the person put his comrades before his own well-being and must have involved the risk of one's life.
The first Medal of Honor was awarded in 1863. Since then, more than 3,500 have been awarded.