ARLINGTON, Va., Feb. 16, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — The Congressional Medal of Honor Society announced today its 2016 Citizen Honors Award winners. The five awardees selected for their acts of courage or selfless service are: Chris Mintz of Roseburg, Ore., James Vernon of Morton, Ill., Eileen Hadbavny of Charleston, S.C., Myles Eckert of Toledo, Ohio and United Through Reading based in San Diego. They will be recognized in a ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery on National Medal of Honor Day, Friday, March 25, 2016. The ceremony is sponsored by The Boeing Company.

“We created the Citizen Honors Awards to recognize and celebrate the exceptional deeds of America’s citizen heroes,” said Thomas G. Kelley, Medal of Honor Recipient and president of the Congressional Medal of Honor Society. “Chris, James, Eileen, Myles and the people behind United Through Reading are great examples of the citizen heroes all around us. They are truly deserving of our recognition.”

The 2016 Citizen Honors awardees were selected for the following acts:

  • Chris Mintz of Roseburg, Ore., was selected for his courageous act on October 1, 2015 when he confronted a shooter on the campus of Umpqua Community College, preventing further loss of life. Mintz, an army veteran, was shot 7 times and continues to recover from his wounds.
  • James Vernon of Morton, Ill., was selected for his courageous act on October 10, 2015 when he subdued a would-be attacker who threatened to kill 20 middle school students and their parents participating in an after-school chess club meeting at the public library. While all of the children were unharmed, Vernon was injured in the attack.
  • Lt Col Eileen Hadbavny, USAF (Ret) of Charleston, S.C., was selected for her lifetime of selfless service in support of veterans through her volunteer work with the Red Cross, Veterans of Foreign Wars and the American Legion. Hadbavny served as an Air Force Reserve flight nurse for 28 years.

The Society created two new Citizen Honors Awards this year to recognize young heroes and community service organizations: The Congressional Medal of Honor Society Young Hero Award and The Congressional Medal of Honor Society Community Service Hero Award.

The Young Hero Award recognizes Americans aged 8-18 for their leadership, courage, character, integrity and service on a local, regional, state or national level. The Community Service Hero Award recognizes a community-based organization for its exceptional impact or mission in supporting our nation’s service member community. The 2016 recipients are:

  • Myles Eckert of Toledo, Ohio, was selected for his volunteer philanthropic work on behalf of Gold Star children. While visiting a Cracker Barrel restaurant with his family, Eckert found $20 in the parking lot. During breakfast, he saw a soldier and his family enter the restaurant and told his mother that the soldier reminded him of his father, who was killed in combat in Iraq weeks after Eckert was born. Eckert paid it forward by giving the $20 to the soldier. After this remarkable story was told nationwide, many people sent Myles $20. But instead of taking any money, the Eckerts directed those donations to various charities that help kids who have lost a parent to war. To date, donations total more than $2,000,000.00.
  • United Through Reading (UTR) was selected for its innovative and grassroots response to a critical need in the armed forces community, their exceptional international impact on military families, and demonstrating the impact of one person’s courageous transformative vision and actions. Founded 25 years ago by military-spouse Betty Mohlenbrock, UTR offers deployed military service members the opportunity to be video-recorded reading books to their children at home in nearly 200 locations worldwide. An estimated 2 million service member families have participated in the program.

“Like our individual courage and service awards, our two new awards demonstrate that individuals can directly impact and improve our communities. With these awards, we’re asking all Americans to consider how they can serve and build stronger communities across America. We look forward to honoring the work of other outstanding young heroes and community organizations,” said Kelley.

For more information about the 2016 Citizen Honors Award finalists and the Citizen Honors nomination process, visit the Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation website at:

For additional information on National Medal of Honor Day and our Nation’s Medal of Honor Recipients, visit the Congressional Medal of Honor Society website at:

About the Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation:

The Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation was founded in 1999 by the Congressional Medal of Honor Society to perpetuate the legacy of the Medal. Through character development, scholarship and citizen recognition programs based on the values embodied in the Medal — courage, sacrifice, selfless service and patriotism — the Foundation teaches all citizens that they can make a difference in the lives of others. The Foundation also supports the important work of the Congressional Medal of Honor Society. A 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization with Tax ID #25-1828488, the Foundation carries a rating of 4/4 stars for fiscal management, accountability and transparency from Charity Navigator, America’s premiere nonprofit evaluator.

About the Congressional Medal of Honor Society:

The Congressional Medal of Honor Society was chartered by the Congress in 1958 to create a brotherhood among the living Medal of Honor recipients, to protect and uphold the dignity and honor of the Medal, to promote patriotism and love of country, and to inspire our youth to become worthy and dedicated citizens of our nation. Its membership consists exclusively of those individuals who have received the Medal of Honor. Today, there are 77 living recipients of the Medal of Honor. The Society is unique in that its membership hopes that there will be no need to welcome new inductees.

Contact: Eugenia Gardner, (703) 373-7172

SOURCE Congressional Medal of Honor Society via PR Newswire

Nicole Vargas

My name is Nicole Vargas. I joined the Reading Legacies team in January 2023. I have a BA in Child Development from Point Loma Nazarene University and 6 years’ experience working with children from ages infancy to adolescence. My role as the Storybook Readers Program Manager is to oversee the programing and implementation of our Youth Readers and Storybook Inspirations programs. As a child development professional, I have firsthand experience seeing the immense impact that reading aloud to children has on their early literacy skills and relationship building within the family and community. One of my favorite children’s books is If You Give A Mouse A Cookie by Laura Numeroff.