DENISON, TX - A local man was honored Wednesday, nearly two years after he gave his life to save the lives of two boys.
Two years ago a man named Kenneth Brandon Cowart jumped into the Red River to save two boys trapped in a strong current.
Cowart saved the boys but drowned in the process.
His family has always known he was a hero and now the nation knows it too.
"Shocked, devastated...didn't know what I was going to do," said Sondra Cowart, Kenneth's widow.
It has been two years since Sondra Cowart's life changed forever.
Her husband, Kenneth Brandon Cowart, left home on June 30th, 2012 and headed out to the Dension Dam to do what he loved most.
"Always going fishing...always. That was his favorite thing," said Sondra.
But as he was fishing Kenneth noticed two young boys struggling in the water. He jumped in and saved the boys from drowning but could not save himself.
"He's what I would call an everyday hero," said Sondra.
"Anybody who goes out and risks their life like that certainly needs to be recognized," said Bill Ray, Denison assistant fire chief.
Two years after his death Cowart is getting that recognition with one of the nation's most prestigious honors.
"He is now being awarded the Carnegie Hero Medal for acts of heroism by, I guess, your normal everyday people," said Sondra.
The recipient of the award must be a civilian who voluntarily risks their life to an extraordinary degree while saving or attempting to save the life of another person.
Ray was there for the rescue that eventually became a recovery effort.
He said there's no doubt Cowart and his family should be honored with this medal and Cowart's heroism is something that won't be forgotten.
"it's something that stays with you for quite some time and you probably never forget it. The fact that Mr. Cowart was doing this in an effort to save somebody else's life...it really stands out," said Ray
"It's an honor to have him recognized, it really is. We live day-to-day, remember him all the time and think about him all the time. But this is a good way to remember him and it makes it easier to remember him," said Sondra.
Cowart was one of 22 people awarded throughout the United States and Canada with the Medal.
The recipients are chosen by The Carnegie Hero Fund Commission.