Medal of Honor recipients honored in Gainesville

GAINESVILLE, Tex. (KXII)-- For the 18th straight year these American heroes, recipients of the highest military decoration were honored by the city of Gainesville.

On Wednesday roughly 17 of them were escorted by a law enforcement motorcade from DFW Airport to Liberty Crossing shopping center.

Organizers say they don't know why they're seeing more recipients this year but are excited to welcome them to the medal of honor week celebrations.

The first Medal of Honor was awarded back in 1863.

On Wednesday, 24 men from all across the nation gathered in Gainesville, all recipients of the highest award for valor that can be given to a person serving in the military.

"23 years in service, 42 months in combat and proud of everyday that I served."

77-year-old Melvin Morris served during the Vietnam War where he led an advance across enemy lines to recover the body of fallen soldier.

He was shot 3 times in the process.

"I never griped I never complained, I just did what I had to do," said Morris.

For 18 years the City of Gainesville has been the only city in the nation to host this kind of event.

Helping earn them the title of "Most Patriotic City in America" by Rand McNally in 2012.

These Medal of Honor recipients say the respect they are shown promotes patriotism and celebrates those who served.

"And when we see people standing out along the rode, the highway, the interstate, with flags and waving and saluting and standing at attention, its does something to the heart."

Woody Williams is a WWII veteran and joined the Marine Corps in 1943.

The 95-year-old veteran fought during the Battle of Iwo Jima and is the last surviving Medal of Honor recipient to have fought in that battle.

He credits his medal to his fellow Marines who fought by his side.

"I wear it in their honor, not mine, because they gave more than I did," said Williams.

"Its indescribable, and you feel like you're somebody and that's the greatest feeling," said Morris.

Over 3,500 people have been awarded the Medal of Honor since it was created.

Today there are only 72 living recipients, those in attendance on Wednesday say they just want all veterans to be respected and appreciated.

This Saturday the annual parade to honor these men will take place at 10am, in downtown Gainesville on California street.