One of the stories of everyday Minnesota citizens that Gov. Tim Pawlenty highlighted in his State of the State address was the account of Chad Malmberg, who was in the gallery Thursday, looking squared away in his U.S. Army dress greens.

In January of 2007, Malmberg, a staff sergeant in the Minnesota Army National Guard, was commanding a convoy escort team that was attacked by 30 or more insurgents in the middle of the night in the middle of nowhere in Iraq. What followed was a 50-minute firefight with the enemy so close you could see their faces in the muzzle flashes of their weapons.

When it was over, Malmberg's crew, though greatly outnumbered, escaped physically unscathed. Nine insurgents were killed.

Malmberg's deeds that night have elevated him to hero status and he was awarded the Silver Star, the fourth-highest military decoration available to a member of any branch of the U.S. military.

Malmberg, the son of a former St. Paul police officer, is the first Minnesota National Guard member to be awarded the medal since World War II.

When he accepted the award, Pawlenty noted in his speech, Malmberg did it in an understated Minnesota way.

"He didn't give a big speech or talk about himself," Pawlenty noted. "He came to the podium, asked members of his unit that were there with him that fateful day to stand and also be recognized, and then he sat down. That was it."