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Sep 24, 2009
MANSFIELD – Today, Governor Bobby Jindal awarded 79 veterans from DeSoto Parish with the Louisiana Veterans’ Honor Medal at the DeSoto Multicultural Community Center in Mansfield. Governor Jindal was joined by Louisiana Department of Veterans Affairs (LDVA) Secretary Lane Carson and Major General Bennett C. Landreneau, Adjutant General of the Louisiana National Guard, to award the state’s veterans with a special medal in honor of their service in the Armed Forces.
Governor Jindal said, “Our veterans were willing to run towards danger and not away from it, in order to protect us and our freedom. Their sacrifice and willingness to stand in harm’s way is why we honor them with these medals today.”
Governor Jindal signed legislation in 2008 to create the Veterans’ Honor Medal Program in order to recognize and honor all of Louisiana’s veterans. The program is managed by the Louisiana Department of Veterans Affairs. The Veterans’ Honor Medal is gold-plated and comes with a blue ribbon. One side shows the state of Louisiana with “United States” embossed above and “Armed Forces” below.
The other side bears the words, “Louisiana appreciates your service to our country.” Veterans who sustained a wound in battle will receive an honor medal designated by a silver star and a purple ribbon. Families of veterans who were killed in action will receive an honor medal designated by a gold star and a gold ribbon.
While awarding the medals, Governor Jindal told stories of medal recipients to highlight the heroic acts of Louisiana’s veterans. Alvin Savell was born and raised in Zwolle. At the age of 18, he painted houses before he answered the call of duty to serve in World War Two. Savell joined the Army and served as a medic, where his responsibility was to treat wounded soldiers.
On one particular mission, Savell was aboard a transport ship bringing soldiers to the New Guinea shore when his unit came under fire from Japanese planes. Before his unit could fire at the enemy planes, a bomb was dropped near his vessel that knocked him overboard.
As he fell into the water, another exploding shell peppered Savell’s back with shrapnel. With artillery shells exploding around him, Savell clung to a piece of a damaged ship for hours, and became separated from his unit. An alert crew aboard another American ship eventually spotted Savell, where he was drifting and wounded in the sea, and pulled him to safety so he could be treated for his wounds.
He was able to return to his unit to assist the Allied forces’ drive across the Central Pacific, which ultimately led to the liberation of the Philippine Islands from the Japanese. Savell was awarded the Purple Heart for his wounds sustained in battle.
Upon honorable discharge, Savell moved to Shreveport and became a machinist for Libbey Glass Factory. He got married and raised five children. Savell passed away in 2002.
Savell’s son James, who also served as an Army medic, accepted a medal for his service as well as on his father’s behalf.