Two local veterans, one nominated posthumously, were approved unanimously by Gov. Ron DeSantis and the state Cabinet for induction into the Florida Veterans' Hall of Fame later this year. Retired Air Force Col. Michael Flynt if Miramar Beach, who died two years ago, was selected in part for his founding role with the Choctawhatchee Basin Alliance. The other local nominee, Dr. Eddie Zant, was recognized in part for providing free hyperbaric oxygen treatments to veterans dealing with concussion injuries.

TALLAHASSEE — Two local veterans, one nominated posthumously, are among the 16 veterans approved unanimously Tuesday for induction into the Florida Veterans' Hall of Fame by Gov. Ron DeSantis and the state Cabinet. A formal induction ceremony will be held later this year.

The Florida Veterans' Hall of Fame, established in 2013, is unlike a traditional military hall of fame because it focuses on veterans' post-military contributions to the state and their communities.

Posthumous induction was approved Tuesday for retired Air Force Col. Michael Flynt of Miramar Beach, who died in December 2017 at the age of 72. He was inducted in part for his founding role in the Choctawhatchee Basin Alliance, a nonprofit organization that helps sustain healthy local waterways.

"I'm humbled, and I know he would be," Flynt's widow, Charlotte, said Tuesday.

"It's a shame he's not here to appreciate it," she added, "but he never would have expected it."

The late Col. Flynt was a command pilot on both fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters, and earned the Distinguished Flying Cross, among other awards. He served as a faculty member and commandant at the U.S. Air Force Special Operations School.

His wife, though, was particularly impressed by his educational pursuits. In addition to a bachelor's degree in zoology, Flynt held master's degrees in urban and regional planning and coastal zone studies. Charlotte Flynt once gave her husband a thermometer as a gift "because it was the only thing that had more degrees than he did," she quipped Tuesday.

In addition to his work with the Choctawhatchee Basin Alliance — "Water was everything to him," his widow said — Flynt served on the Northwest Florida State College board of trustees and with South Walton Utilities, the Choctawhatchee Military Council and the Air Commando Association.

The other local veteran approved for the Hall of Fame is Dr. Eddie Zant, a Fort Walton Beach physician. A former Army medical officer who served stateside from 1969 to 1971, Zant was recognized for providing free hyperbaric oxygen treatments to veterans suffering from concussion-related issues.

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy increases the amount of oxygen going to all cells of the body, including the brain, by up to 15 times, according to Zant's website, flhbot.com. Treatments have a positive effect on many organ systems and the body's immune system, according to the website. To date, Zant has provided free treatments to dozens of veterans at a value of more than $100,000.

One of his patients was another member of the Florida Veterans' Hall of Fame, now-retired Army Reserve brigadier general and retired Okaloosa County Judge Patt Maney. Maney was severely injured when a roadside bomb blew up the SUV he was riding in Afghanistan in 2005. 

Zant knew he was under consideration for a place in the Hall of Fame, but was surprised that, as a non-combatant, he was approved for inclusion in the Class of 2019.

"Just to be put up for it is an honor," Zant said. "I feel a very strong allegiance to the military."

The other 14 veterans approved for the Hall of Fame on Tuesday are Air Force Sgt. John Brinkley; Army Reserve Maj. Edward Copeland III; Army CWO4 Donald Courtney; Marine Corps Reserve Pfc. Raymond “Ray” Cralle; Army Capt. Matt Franz; U.S. Navy Reserve Petty Officer 3rd Class Irving Friedman; and retired Air Force Lt. Col. Ali Frohlich.

Also, Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Kathryn Gates-Skipper; Marine Corps Capt. Dale Leslie (posthumous); Navy Capt. Norman Olson; Air Force Reserve Capt. Robert Phillips; Army Sgt. 1st Class Juan Santiago-Seda; Army Reserve Capt. Michael Waldrop; and retired Air Force Brig. Gen. William Webb.