Two Idaho National Laboratory employees were honored Wednesday with the U.S. Cavalry and Armor Association’s top award for its mounted forces.

Retired Col. Robert Schumitz, a 32-year U.S. Army veteran who is the director of Defense Systems at INL now, was knighted and given the bronze medallion in the Order of St. George. And Jeffrey Lacy, who is a principal investigator for the Specific Manufacturing Capability Engineering and Product Development group, was knighted and given the Noble Patron of Armor award, the version given to civilians.

Lacy, who has worked at INL for more than 30 years, researches how M1 Abrams Tank armor performs against different threats using computer simulations and identifying risks.

“INL’s growth and impact in this field is largely due to Jeff’s work and contributions,” said Walt Gonzalez, director of the Specific Manufacturing Capability.

Schumitz leads the team that develops and builds armor for the Abrams tank.

“This armor helps prevent harm and saves soldiers’ lives, something Bob and his team take great pride in,” Gonzalez said.

Retired Army Gen. John Tilelli came to INL for the ceremony, at which Lacy and Schumitz knelt and were touched on the shoulder with a sword before receiving their medals. When it was over, everyone ate a cake upon which St. George slaying the dragon was depicted in the frosting.

Tilelli said INL’s research plays an important role in America’s national security.

“As the Bible said, it’s a light under a basket, and we’ve got to lift that basket up and let other (people) see what your capabilities are,” he said.

Lacy and Schumitz both spoke briefly after being knighted, making sure to highlight the contributions of everyone they work with.

“Thirty-two years of being in the Army, both civilian and uniform, the esprit and honorary awards, it’s all about the team,” Schumitz said.

St. George, an early Christian martyr who, the story goes, was a member of the Roman emperor Diocletian’s Praetorian Guard and was tortured and executed for his faith, has been associated with mounted warriors going back to the Middle Ages and is regarded as a patron by numerous armor and cavalry forces worldwide.

The U.S. Army started giving out its Order of St. George Medallion in 1986. Including Schumitz and Lacy, 11 INL employees have been inducted into the Order of St. George, said INL spokesman Ethan Huffman.

Reporter Nathan Brown can be reached at 208-542-6757. Follow him on Twitter: @NateBrownNews.