Tampa Bay area man receives military medal given to civilians

Richard Cicero is honored Friday, Sept. 11, at MacDill Air Force Base.

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – On Friday A Tampa Bay area man received a special honor at MacDill Air Force Base. Richard Cicero was severely injured, while a civilian, in Afghanistan.

After serving in the U.S. Special Operations forces, Cicero became a military contractor. He was tasked with locating IEDs in Afghanistan. On Aug. 24, 2010, he stepped on an IED and lost his right arm and leg.

PHOTOS: September 11 Anniversary 2015

Friday, on the anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, Cicero was awarded the Defense Medal for the Defense of Freedom at MacDill. The relatively new medal was created in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. It’s the civilian equivalent of the Purple Heart for service members.

Cicero said he was humbled to receive it. “You have given for your country. To have your country recognize what your country means to you, it’s what it’s all about,” Cicero said.

During the ceremony, Cicero credited a Canadian serviceman, Jeff Venot, with saving his life following the incident. Venot said it was a team effort.

“I am one piece of that pie. To me, we were all doing our jobs trying to make certain things went right that day,” the Canadian serviceman said.

Cicero now spends his time encouraging other wounded warriors to carry on despite their disabilities. “So often times we get lost in the small things and we lose sight of the things that really make a difference, and that’s what I try to focus on every day,” he said.





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