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Fallen soldiers awarded the Purple Heart
OKALOOSA COUNTY -- Floridas fallen service member from 2013 and 2014 were honored Saturday. These brave men gave their all on the battlefield and have been awarded one of the militarys top honors, the Purple Heart. Zachary L. Shannon, of Dunedin, killed in action March 11; Marc A. Scialdo of Naples, killed in action March 11; Andrew M. Pedersen Keel of South Miami, killed in action March 11; James M. Steel of Tampa, killed in action April 3; Jesse L. Thomas Jr. of Pensacola, killed in action June 10; Jared W. Brown of Youngstown, killed in action June 16; Justin R. Johnson of Hobs Sound, killed in action June 18; Randy L. Billings of Homosassa, killed in action Dec. 17; William K. Lacey, killed in action January 4 The war memorial mural was started by the Military Order of the Purple Heart in 2003. More than 350 fallen soldiers are honored on the wall. Its designed to recognize Floridas Purple Heart recipients, those wounded or killed in the line of duty. "These guys were brave, and made the ultimate sacrifice" said Master Sgt. Bernie Howard, (Ret.) Eight new portraits have been added to the wall. Army Staff Sergeant, Jesse Thomas of Pensacola is one of them. He was killed while serving in Afghanistan. The day he was laid to rest, an entire community came together to honor him. Sgt. William Kelly Lacey attended Niceville High School. He put in more than ten years of military service. He was killed in early January, just ten days before he was scheduled to return home. He was awarded the Purple Heart and his family couldnt be prouder of his service and sacrifice. "It shows just how heroic he was and how special the purple heart is for the fallen" said Shawn Lacey, Brother of Sgt. Lacey. "No one goes out to win it, and it's just one of these things that happen to you" said Lt. Col. Fred Rall (Ret.), Purple Heart recipient. Lt. Col. Fred Rall is a retired Vietnam veteran. He received his purple heart after he was wounded in March of 1965. He and his fellow Purple Heart recipients feel its their duty to ensure every fallen soldier is honored. "We must remember these people and pay honor to them today and personally and publicly" said Rall.