purpleheartClip of the award presentation.
The late Bryan County Sheriff’s Department Sergeant Michael Larson, who died in the line of duty in December, was commemorated by the military on Monday by being awarded an honorary Purple Heart.
His widow, Lisa Larson, accepted the award on his behalf during an afternoon presentation at the BCSD annex station in Richmond Hill. Present during the ceremony were Sheriff Clyde Smith, decorated war veteran Donald Singleton and Commander William Davis with the Savannah Military Order of the Purple Heart.
"This was a moving ceremony and I can’t think of a better recipient for the Purple Heart than Michael Larson," said Smith. He added that, although six months have passed, Larson’s memory is "as alive and strong as it ever was" at the department and he hears Larson’s named mentioned "at least once a day".The Savannah Military Order of the Purple Heart is a chapter of a national organization whose life members are comprised of military veterans and personnel who have received the Purple Heart after being injured in the line of military duty.
Davis said his heart goes out to the Larson family and that his story hits a chord as Davis himself was a Savannah police officer for 39 years and has experienced the death of fellow officers.
Group member and Richmond Hill resident Donald Singleton, who received his Purple Heart after being injured in the Vietnam War, was friends with Larson before his passing. Singleton reminisced on the many conversations the two had about their respective military careers. When he saw that Larson was on the list to receive this honor, Singleton said he personally requested to be a part of the presentation.
"He’s smiling on us here today," said Singleton. "Mike was more than a regular police officer. He was just a great guy, and I’m proud that I was able to be a part of this."
Before enlisting with the BCSD, Michael Larson served a 19-year team in the U.S. Army. Larson signed up when he was 17-years-old and retired in 1997 with the status of Chief Warrant Officer 2.
During his military tenure, he was in the Special Forces and a Black Hawk pilot.
"I am very honored by this and I know Michael would be," said Lisa. "Michael loved the military. He actually wanted to go back in and said that he would if the time came where he felt he needed to."
Lisa spoke highly of Sheriff Smith, his department and some others in the community who have reached out to her and her family and helped them through their loss.
"(Father’s Day) was really hard," said Lisa. "We take one day at a time. We have good days and we have horrible days, but, all in all, we are doing O.K."
One of the projects that the Order partakes in is whenever a police officer, fireman or EMT dies in the line of duty, they present the family with an honorary Purple Heart in recognition of those who "made the ultimate sacrifice while serving their community," according to Davis.