Billy Ray Cyrus has paid tribute to a Nevada school teacher who was shot dead last year (13), hailing him as a "true American hero" during a special concert on Saturday night (05Jul14).

Michael Landsberry, an Afghanistan war veteran, was killed by a gunshot wound to the chest after trying to talk a 12-year-old gunman into handing over his weapon in October (13), and Cyrus paid his respects to the educator at a show in Incline Village, Nevada over the weekend.

The Achy Breaky Heart hitmaker told the crowd, "Tonight we are here to honour a true American hero. Michael Landsberry made the ultimate sacrifice to save his students after serving three terms in Afghanistan."

The singer presented Landsberry's widow Sharon with a memorial plaque and gave her a "financial gift" of an undisclosed amount, and he said Landsberry represented the Vietnam veteran in his song Some Gave All, which he performed with a large picture of Landsberry behind him.

Cyrus and his father Ronald Ray Cyrus have often paid tribute to unsung American heroes in the past, but the country star's words of respect for Landsberry were the first time he has done so since his father's death in 2006.

He tells the Associated Press, "Just about every year, my dad and I would find an unsung hero and present them with a 'Some Gave All' award. I kind of play everything by ear, and I thought sometime when the time is right, I would love to recognise the sacrifice Michael made."