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Secretary of Defense Ashton B. Carter lauded UMUC student and Medal of Honor recipient Capt. Florent Groberg (U.S. Army Ret.) as “representing the highest caliber of individuals who have helped defend our nation and all we stand for, for over 15 years in Iraq and Afghanistan.”

Speaking March 29 at the World Affairs Council of Washington, D.C. Annual Global Education Gala, Secretary Carter said Capt. Groberg keeps up “a tradition of service and sacrifice that has been passed from generation to generation.”

President Obama awarded Groberg the Medal of Honor Nov. 12, 2015, in recognition of his courage while on a mission in Afghanistan, when he confronted a suicide bomber and pushed the assailant down and away from a large contingent of allied officials before his suicide vest exploded.

During three years of recuperation that included 32 surgeries on a badly injured leg, Groberg began working on a master’s degree at UMUC in intelligence management.

Groberg, whose introduction at the Gala was greeted with a standing ovation, was the guest of honor of UMUC, which received the Council’s Educator of the Year Award in 2015.  The annual event attracted more than 800 guests, including dozens of ambassadors and other diplomats, as well as business, education and government leaders.

Carter, who received the Council’s International Public Service Award, talked about how important education and innovation are to the military in keeping the United States ahead of adversaries that are developing their own high-tech weapons.

“We need to think outside of our five-sided box, the Pentagon, and foster a spirit of innovation and reform at every level,” Carter said. “That’s why we are making increased investments in science and technology, innovating in our military operations, and building new bridges to the amazing American technology industry to stay ahead of tomorrow’s threats.”

Carter said its all-volunteer force requires the U.S. military to recruit, retain and develop people with high levels of education and innovative thinking to create a “force of the future.”

UMUC President Javier Miyares, who attended the dinner, said afterward that the university is taking the lead in educating military personnel in advanced skills, such as cyber security, to meet Secretary Carter’s priorities.

“We are humbled by Capt. Groberg’s tremendous sacrifice in service to our country,” Miyares said. “We are honored to count him among the tens of thousands of military personnel and veterans who are taking advantage of UMUC’s global reach to provide them with a valued education wherever they are.”