Mr. Speaker, Michael Riley, an American patriot, exemplifies that through dedication and determination, one can achieve great things in our country. Faced with adversity from a young age, Michael was no stranger to obstacles. He wasn't brought up by the most encouraging family. Instead of being surrounded by love and support, he was laughed at and ridiculed by his family members for wanting to serve and represent his country.
Michael was always small in stature, in comparison to others his age, and he was told he would fail at his dream for that very reason. Despite these hardships, he was determined to succeed. Michael had his eyes set on his goal, and there was no turning back for him. On his own, he enlisted himself in the Marines just one week after turning 18. He chose the Marines, the toughest branch, because he wanted to prove wrong everybody that tried to tell him he couldn't do it. Before long, Michael surpassed everyone's expectations, or lack thereof. It didn't take much time for Michael to impress his superiors with his work ethic and determination, eventually earning the rank of Chief Warrant Officer 4, a remarkable achievement.
Every day, Michael was out there serving his country in full force. He recalled the days that he experienced conflicts many others hadn't at his age. One day, his squad was ambushed and surrounded by their enemy. Adrenaline was pumping, but you could still smell some fear in the air. In the attack, his squad leader became wounded, and his lieutenant was killed. It wasn't the outcome they had hoped for, but the fight had to go on. When he was only 19, Michael led a squad of Marines in combat, a task that not many would be able to accomplish at such a young age.
Throughout his service, Michael served in several conflicts, including Vietnam, Cuba, and Iraq. But despite his service overseas, he says he is most proud of his service securing our nation's borders. When his service in the Marines was over, Michael joined the United States Coast Guard. During the devastating aftermath of September 11, 2001, he was appointed Task Force Leader to design and implement the Sea Marshal Program, a security measure that, to this day, has provided safety and security for the Port of Houston. The program, which Michael oversaw from start until finished, was launched to prevent terrorism in a given port. Michael and his armed protection teams boarded ships and guarded them for their voyage through the Houston Ship Channel.
For his involvement in the Sea Marshal Program, Michael Riley was awarded the 9/11 medal by the United States Department of Transportation. This is a very highly regarded honor that recognizes civilians or military men and women who made significant and heroic accomplishments after the September 11, 2011, terrorist attacks on our country. Overall, Michael has received 20 medals and ribbons throughout his illustrious career, the highest one being the 9/11 medal.
Michael exemplifies a true American patriot who never let anyone or anything stand in his way. I've met Michael several times. He's never been someone to boast about his prestigious accomplishments being the humble person he is. However, today, I would like to thank him and recognize him for his dedication to keeping America the ``land of the free and the home of the brave.'' Despite the hardships, he faced when he was young, and everyone that told him he couldn't do it, he served our country and he served it well. It takes a very special kind of person to accomplish everything that Michael did throughout his service to America.
And that's just the way it is.