War hero: America 'is worth dying for'

Retired major general recognized for distinguished service to country

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Dozens of soldiers and community members gathered Thursday for a Special Forces Regiment induction ceremony at the Jacksonville Golf and Country Club.

The ceremony celebrated the courage and inspiration of retired Maj. Gen. Michael D. Healy, who was honored as a distinguished member of the Special Forces Regiment.

Shedding tears, Healy remembered his many U.S. Army deployments, when he was separated from his wife, Jacklyn Healy, and their six sons.

"I'm an emotional man, and I'm not a bit ashamed to cry for what I love, and I loved them -- my boys," he said. "She got after me one time about that: 'You better get home. You got six boys sitting here.'"

"He wouldn't listen to me and stay home," Jacklyn Healy said.

Healy served a long and colorful career, spending nearly 40 years in the service. He fought in World War II and Korea and served 5½ tours in Vietnam, more than any other soldier.

Healy said America was his first love, and he enlisted at the age of 19.

"This country is a magnificent place -- blessed by God -- and is worth dying for," he said.

Healy choked up, remembering all of the men who died serving beside him.

"I'll never forget them," he said. "Every night I speak to them."

Healy said the award went beyond recognizing his service.

"The 'distinguished' part of it belongs to the soldiers that I was honored to serve," he said.

Healy said he would never have been able to accomplish what he did without Jacklyn, who stood by him and took care of the family while he was away.

"We're one, Jackie and I," Healy said. "That's been really my greatest honor. If she would have known what was going to happen with her, with my service, when I asked her to marry me, I think she'd have run the other way."

"I'm very proud of him," Jacklyn Healy said.

Maj. Gen. James Linder said Healy is now a member of a small group, recognized for leaving a significant and lasting legacy as members of the Special Forces Regiment.

"I'm overcome with gratitude for the recognition," Healy said.

He said this was the highest honor he's ever received, and he hopes his story will inspire others to join the military and serve their country.