ORLANDO, Fla. -- The U.S. Army honored two of its best -- a civilian scientist and a sergeant major serving in Afghanistan -- for their support to America's Soldiers.

The award recipients from the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command epitomize the mission to empower, unburden and protect the Warfighter.

Sgt. Maj. Matt De Lay is deployed to Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan, as the noncommissioned officer in charge at the RDECOM Field Assistance in Science and Technology-Center.

De Lay delivered his remarks via a recorded video message from combat.

"My command's leadership, knowledge and support inspire not only our team but all Warfighters who put their lives on the line each and every day," De Lay said. "RDECOM's scientists and engineers work hard to provide new technology for Soldiers on the battlefield."

Gary Martin, RDECOM executive deputy to the commanding general, accepted the award for De Lay.

"His ability to embrace evolving science and technology, coupled with a Soldier's ability to envision new technology to service Warfighters on the battlefield, has truly benefited the United States Army," Martin said.

"Sergeant Major De Lay's diverse and extensive experience in combat contributes immensely to the command's efforts to develop next-generation equipment and future technologies for our Soldiers.

"There is no mission too difficult and no sacrifice too great for Sergeant Major De Lay, and this is why he is worthy of this honor."

Gerardo Melendez, technical director of the U.S. Army Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center, presented an award to Samuel Perez, branch chief of the ARDEC Illumination and Smoke Mortar Cartridges.

"His efforts have led to the research, development, production and fielding of new capabilities for the Warfighter," Melendez said. "One of his many key milestones includes his leading of the first of its kind interactive Infrared Illum Mortar Cartidges CD-ROM, which is being used to train infantry units."

Perez thanked his family and Army colleagues for his opportunity to the serve the country.

"Today, I don't celebrate what I receive but what I have given to others using my talents and
abilities through my work and church," Perez said.

The ceremony was part of the Hispanic Engineer National Achievement Awards Conference's Salute to our STEM Military and Civilian Heroes Dinner Oct. 6.