Those were the first words spoken as retired Delaware National Guard Major General Frank Vavala was awarded the Marvel Cup by the Delaware State Chamber of Commerce.
The Marvel Cup goes to a Delawarean who has made an outstanding contribution to the state, community, or society.
Vavala was honored in a taped message shown before a virtual edition of the 184th annual DSCC dinner, but was tricked by thinking he would be handing out an award to one of his former soldiers, only to find out it was him being honored.
"This is indeed an honor of the highest magnitude. I would never in my life think that I would be the recipient of this award," Vavala said in the video.
Vavala was a man of few words during the presentation, but that wasn't the case for the parents of one of his former soldiers, as President-elect Joe Biden and future First Lady Dr. Jill Biden heaped praise on Vavala.
"There's no one more deserving than you. I've seen you in action General, all of your courage defined by character," Joe Biden said. "You've not only been an incredible leader of the Delaware National Guard, you've been a genuine friend to so many."
Dr. Jill Biden pointed out Vavala has excelled at some of the tough moments that come with leading a group of soldiers.
"Throughout your career, you've shown uncommon leadership, courage, and dedication to our entire National Guard community. You and Jane understand what it is like. You've always been there to offer the comfort and support, and the prayer card and the phone call, when the military families need it the most."
Vavala helped spearhead the naming of the Delaware National Guard headquarters after Joe Biden's son, Beau Biden, a former guardsman and former Delaware attorney general. The future president said he expects to hear from Vavala as he heads to Washington next week.
"As vice president, you worked with me to get things done for the National Guard, including elevating the National Guard to the Joint Chiefs of Staff. That advice was critical, and as president and commander-in-chief, I know I can count on you to keep speaking out on behalf of the National Guard and their families."
Vavala enlisted in the Delaware Army National Guard in 1967 and completed the Delaware Military Academy Officers Candidate School in 1970.
He was named Delaware's Adjutant General in 1999, and ultimately, became Delaware's first National Guardsman to reach four-star rank during an 18-year run leading the guard.
Vavala has retired. Now he's a veteran's advocacy specialist at Delaware Tech, where his role includes helping with day-to-day operations at the Veterans Resource Center at the school's Stanton campus.
In addition, former State Senator Margaret Rose Henry was presented with the Dick DiSabatino Award, given to someone who shapes opinion and public policy in Delaware.
During her 24-year run as 2nd District State Senator, Henry served as Majority Whip and then Majority Leader while also serving in management roles with several groups including United Way and the YWCA.