Two legendary Texas servicemen were recognized Wednesday by Governor Abbott. The families of Chief Petty Officer Chris Kyle and Lieutenant Colonel Ed Dyess received Texas Legislative Medals of Honor.
Governor Gregg Abbott opened the ceremony by saying, the two men being honored today may have lived decades apart, but they shared common valor. How they lived is why state lawmakers, early this year, decided they both deserve the highest military honor in the state.
In receiving the legislative Medal of Honor for her older brother, Nell Dyess Denman couldn't hold back her pride. She was still beaming when she sat down and spoke with me on the steps of the governor's mansion.
"In our hearts he had always received this medal, from us,” said Denman.
Denman's brother was Lt Col. Ed Dyess. The WWII army aviator soared to fame after surviving the Bataan Death March -- and escaping from a Japanese POW camp. The Air Force named its base in Abilene for him after his death. His life in the service is on display at a museum on Base.
"Of course everyone knows about his heroics, because of what’s been written, but no one knows what a special person he was, he was so thoughtful,” said Denman.
Governor Abbott also had another medal to award.
“Now we often refer to Ed Dyess' generation as the greatest generation, but the reality is American heroes continue to step forward,” said Governor Abbott.
That introduction was for Navy Seal Chris Kyle. He served four tours in the Iraq War - and gained national fame after his book was made into the movie “American Sniper.” Kyle was killed two years ago at a north Texas gun range- and his medal was presented to his wife.
Taya Kyle didn't want to receive the medal alone. That’s why she called up those at the ceremony - who serve or have served in the military - to stand with her.
"I think the most meaningful part of this for me is to accept it with all the other veterans, up there, because I know Chris' heart and soul and he always said he didn't do it alone it was a team effort,” said Kyle.
Taya Kyle says her husband would have loved meeting Lt. Col. Dyess who, if he was still alive, would be celebrating his 99th birthday this month.