BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - For one special night, the Coast Coliseum and Convention Center housed a room full of heroes. The large crowd is a testament to how much South Mississippi supports and appreciates its military.
The event, which is sponsored by the chamber of commerce, always attracts one of the top military leaders as its keynote speaker. This year was no different with the Commandant of the Marine Corps, General James F. Amos.
"I get to actually be around folks all dressed up all the time almost every week," said Amos. "But to come here and leave Washington, DC and come here to the Gulf Coast and be a part of this celebration, celebrating and thanking the military in the community; it's just overwhelming and I'm particularly grateful."
With his wife by his side, he received a standing ovation when he arrived. As he took he seat at the head table, he was welcomed by Governor Phil Bryant and Congressman Steven Palazzo.
Palazzo says he feels right at home at the event.
"I served eight years in the marine corps. I continue to serve with the Mississippi Army National Guard. My family has a history of military service, but even if you don't have that; it's the right thing to do," said Palazzo.
The black tie event honored Mississippians whose lives have been lost while serving our country. They spotlighted three special veterans, which Governor Bryant claims to be one of his favorite parts.
"I just met a man that was a fighter in World War II and in the Air Force. Hearing those great stories of the greatest generations is amazing," said Bryant.
Guests were also treated to a unique collection of military exhibits in the convention center lobby.
The Gulf Coast Chamber of Commerce also presented its annual Thomas V. Fredian Community Service Award.