A distinguished Vietnam veteran wounded during a tour of duty and a Volusia County Sheriff’s deputy who put his life on the line to save a bleeding victim of domestic violence were both honored by Sen. Bill Nelson at a ceremony Sept. 19 in DeLand.
Master Sgt. William Holder, who served two tours in Vietnam with the U.S. Air Force, received a Bronze Star Medal and a Purple Heart for his service, where he was wounded in an explosion.
Holder, who moved to DeLand in 1987, had previously received the two medals, but said they were lost.
“It was nice that the senator would do this for me, because I lost my medals,” he said. “When my wife passed away, I donated some boxes, and my medals and flag [were] in them.”
In August 1964, while in Vietnam, Holder served as a forward air controller, directing aircraft to make airstrikes on enemy targets.
While going into a village with two other soldiers to get food, he was wounded when an enemy soldier set off explosives, which were strapped to a bicycle.
“I only made it 85 days before I got blown up,” Holder said.
Volusia County Sheriff’s Deputy Justin Ferrari was honored with the Congressional Badge of Bravery, an honor created in 2008 to recognize civilian law-enforcement officers who perform acts that put them at serious risk of injury or death.
On July 24, 2016, Ferrari responded to a call from a woman who said her estranged husband was holding her in their home against her will.
“On arrival, deputies heard shots being fired inside the residence, and immediately sought cover,” Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood said. “They could hear the female victim inside the residence screaming for help, as well as the subject yelling that he was going to kill her.”
Deputies heard more shots from inside the residence, along with a child saying, “Please don’t kill mommy,” Chitwood said.
The female victim was able to climb out of a window, bleeding from a gunshot wound to her leg. Meanwhile, deputies engaged in an active gunfight with the suspect.
“With the victim pinned down and in a tremendously vulnerable position, and bleeding in front of her residence, Deputy Ferrari leapt into action,” the sheriff said. “Leaving his position of cover, he exposed himself to the deadly threat by running into the gunfire, and dragging the victim approximately 80 feet, to the safety of a neighbor’s front door.”
Ferrari later returned to the scene of the gunfight. The suspect eventually surrendered to deputies.
The victim survived and was later reunited with her three children.
Ferrari was humble about being honored.
“I never expected this. This is a great honor, especially to meet such a real hero, in my opinion,” he said, referring to Holder.
Ferrari, a former DeLand police officer, has been in law enforcement for about eight years.