Willis, who helped bring the Blue Star banner program to the city, served in Vietnam from 1966-68.
Following the recognition of several other Uplanders who serve in the military, the council surprised Willis with his own certificate of recognition.
"While serving as Councilman Ken Willis spearheaded the recognition of the Upland military residents for their current and past service," said Mayor Ray Musser.
Since the program began in 2006, 435 residents serving and veterans recognized for their service.
Blue Star banners became popular during World War I, Willis said.
Willis helped bring the program to the city because of his experience coming home from serving in Vietnam about 45 years ago.
"Like a lot of other Vietnam vets came home from a very unpopular war and it was fairly ordinary for people to make unkind remarks to us as we might pass by in the airport or bus station wherever in our uniforms, and it made for feeling welcome at home very important to us," he said.
Willis wanted the Upland residents serving in the military to feel supported.
"After 9/11 with so many young people enlisted and being commissioned in the service, I did not want to see the situation where a long-drawn-out war became very unpopular and before you knew it people were starting to say unkind things to our new veterans," he said. "It was in hope this program would be a means from preventing that or curtailing that from happening."
Residents recognized on Monday:
Marine Sgt. Christopher Aleman
Navy Aviation Specialist Cole Bennett
Army Pvt. Kenneth Carlson
Navy Electronics Technician Second Class Van Erwin
Navy Lt. Commander Lisa Gibson
Navy Airman Nicholas Hanna
Navy Petty Officer Second Class James Hopper
Navy Corpsman Dylan Loria
Coast Guard Seaman Travis Mondrala
Army Sgt. First Class Andrew Rodriguez
Air Force Airman First Class Paul Sanchez
Marine Cpl. Jesus Santana
Army Pvt. Thomas Scarpelli, Jr.
Air Force First Lt. Spencer Shibler
Air Force Airman First Class Timothy Shibler
Army Pfc. Shane Slaght