"Acts ofvalor happen everyday, they're happening as we speak," says Lt. Col. Eric Grace. And one act ofvalor from Egg Harbor Wownship native is definitely not going unnoticed.
"As a closeair support pilot, we want to make sure that we can do everything we can toprotect the friendlies on the ground."
Protecting troopson the ground in Afghanistan was all that was on his mind back on February 8thof last year, as Grace made a groundbreaking decision by commanding the use ofa low collateral missile, one that saved many soldiers lives.
"Truthfully, ithadn't been done yet," says Grace.
It was the firstuse of this weapon as it was intended to be fielded."
A "first"that has him receiving the 62nd American Legion Aviator's Post ValorAward for 2012. Grace now joins iconic aviators like General Henry "Hap" Arnoldand Major Charles "Chuck" Yeager.
"When youlook back at that list of prior recipients, I'm completely humbled and thinkwow I'm in that kind of company for being selected for this.
"When I foundout it was out of the whole air force, I was that's fun, that's cool,"says his 11-year old daughter, Alyssa.
Grace, a father oftwo, was with his South Jersey family and wife Shannon upon accepting the awardat the Annual Valor Award Military Ball in New York.
An event thatGrace says would not be possible, without his family's love and support.
"They're theones that have to be honored, because of all they're commitment and sacrificethat they have put in over the years: allowing me to chase my dream.
A dream grace saysisn't defined by prestige or pins,
"Mysatisfaction comes from the next time your in the air and you see that solidercome home, I feel like I had a part in that because i was a there overhead,protecting those guys.