Standing in the South Benson marina office of the Police Department's marine division last week, retired Officer Francis "Craig" Ervin kept pausing in his remarks to a special gathering, overcome by emotion.

A 27-year veteran with the department, who then went on to work for Fairfield University's public safety division, Ervin was honored Thursday morning not only for service to the town, but his service to the nation. Now also retired from the university, Ervin is a cancer survivor.

Coinciding with the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War, members of Fairfield's delegation to the General Assembly presented Ervin with a citation from the General Assembly recognizing his service as a corporal in the U.S. Marines during that conflict.

Former Police Chief David Peck, who calls Ervin one of his best friends, contacted state Sen. Tony Hwang after reading about the legislature honoring Vietnam veterans at the Capitol in Hartford.

"We've been best friends for the last 35 years," Peck said, "traveling all over the country together." They've visited the Marine Corps museum, Peck said, where his friend can be found in one of the photos on display there.

"He's very proud of his Vietnam service," Peck said.

Officer Greg Carroll joined the police force in 1992, and after four years on the job, asked Ervin if he should apply for an opening in the marine division, where Ervin served during summer months. "He said, `Yeah, you'd be good,' " Carroll said, and soon he was a member of the marine division.

"I've had a ball working with him," Carroll said. "He's a very humble person; he would do anything for you."

"I got lucky," Ervin said, landing a job with the Police Department. "I didn't grow up here."

The "farm boy" who was born in Kansas and raised in Indiana, stuck around, though, even after his retirement.

While working at Fairfield University, Ervin became involved in the Special Olympics.

"I had a great time working with the guys in the department," he said, and especially helping with the Special Olympics. "It means so much to them," Ervin said, "and that's probably the highlight of my summer."

Honored by the recognition, Ervin said he's no hero.

"All the guys on the job do the same thing," he said. "I'm just a cog in the wheel, so to speak."