By Leanna Maschino
Oklahoma National Guard
OKLAHOMA CITY – An Oklahoma Army National Guard Soldier was awarded the Oklahoma Star of Valor March 4 for his heroic actions in saving his neighbor's life.
"To put it simply, I'm honored," Gonzales said about receiving the award. "It definitely makes my family and I proud. In a world filled with negativity and darkness, it feels great to know I can be part of a shining light."
Gonzales selflessly intervened during the altercation and helped his neighbor get away, but he was stabbed multiple times in the face and neck. Gonzales has made a full recovery.
"It wasn't easy for [my friends or family], but they stood by me and lifted my spirits," Gonzales said. "My support system really allowed me to continue my healing process and much of the credit goes to them. Thank you."
Each member of the Oklahoma National Guard is trained for combat, including one-on-one encounters. Gonzales said that military training helped him defend his neighbor and himself during the incident, but it was his parents who inspired his duty to act.
"Because of military training and combat medic training, I was able to operate and get everyone to safety," Gonzales said. "My duty to act came from my parents. As a child, my parents taught me to fight for what is right. They also taught me to have a strong sense of self and to not back down. My parents shaped my character as a man, and the military honed my skills to operate efficiently and effectively."
The incident had an impact on Gonzales – a sentiment he shared with his neighbor who was also present during the ceremony.
"I can say for myself, it was an eye-opening experience that changed my views of life and love," Gonzales said.
For Gonzales, the award will remain as a highlight in his military career and life, but personally accepting the act as a great one took time.
"Until recently, I was not able to accept my acts as great, but as something I would expect from my fellow man," Gonzales said.
Gonzales also took the opportunity to re-enlist in the Oklahoma Army National Guard during the award ceremony – something he said he was inspired to do because of his leadership's support since the incident.
The Oklahoma Star of Valor honors Oklahoma National Guard members who carry out heroic or valorous acts, typically involving risk of life or injury in the process of protecting another in non-combat circumstances.