National Guard lieutenant from SWFL first to earn Expert Soldier Badge

A Florida soldier makes history.

Lt. Freddy Herrera is the first National Guard soldier in an active guard unit to earn the Expert Soldier Badge.

Soldiers don’t serve for recognition. They don’t serve for praise or money or popularity.

“Being in the Florida Guard, you put Florida first,” Herrera said.

He serves because he loves his country and his state. That comes with risk. Herrera runs toward the hurricanes we run away from and runs the test sites we depend on.

“We’re just citizen soldiers that love our community and want to give back to our country,” Herrera said.

It’s a give, not take, relationship. So when he became the first National Guardsman to earn the Expert Soldier Badge, it meant something — something special.

“I still can’t even describe that feeling,” he said. “It was something that helped me be proud of what I’ve been doing for my entire adult life.”

The badge celebrates his strength, his medical skills and his smarts. It also pays tribute to his sacrifice, what he gives up to give back — time with his Army wife and their twin babies.

“The fact that my newborn twins are going to be able to see that when I’m not around anymore,” he said, “there’s a reason why we leave the house at least we can equate that to something good.”

Speaking of good, Herrera hopes if you take anything from his historic, milestone moment, it’s that you do something good, sacrifice something, in your own way.

“Some people, it’s joining the National Guard and joining the military to help. Others give to food banks, give blood, we all can do something to help our community,” he said.

Just take it from the first man to earn that badge — we need it now more than ever.

Herrera is a true-blue, Southwest Florida man. Born and raised in LaBelle, he now lives in Alva. He says he’s grateful for the support his neighbors show his team.

Reporter:Sydney Persing
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