• Junior ROTC cadet earns national award

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  • Christopher Burnett | Staff Writer
    Leavenworth High School senior Morgan Savage was presented the Legion of Valor Bronze Cross for Achievement Aug. 29 in a surprise ceremony at the high school.
    Retired Lt. Col. Eric Hollister, the senior Army instructor for the Leavenworth High School Junior ROTC program, hosted the surprise ceremony and said the award is presented to only the top students in the program nationwide. He said Savage has had many achievements during her six semesters in JROTC.
    “She is an outstanding representation of the qualities that define the Legion of Valor award,” Hollister said.
    Medal of Honor recipient retired Lt. Col. Charles Hagemeister presented the award. He said he came to the event to introduce himself to the corps of cadets, share his narrative as a recipient of the nation’s highest military honor and to participate in the award ceremony.
    He said he enjoys participating in events that highlight the achievements of young people, and it was an honor to present the award to Savage.
    “I think it is important to recognize excellence,” Hagemeister said. “It is especially enjoyable to see excellent young people like Cadet Savage acknowledged and encouraged in this manner.”
    Savage, a cadet lieutenant colonel and the brigade commander of the Army JROTC program at LHS, was unaware she had been nominated to receive the award. She said despite the fact that her parents came into the classroom, the ceremony remained a surprise to her until the reading of the award citation.
    “I am truly honored. And it was an amazing experience to be presented the award by a Medal of Honor recipient,” Savage said. “I had no idea of having been selected for this opportunity until this ceremony. They got me.”
    Savage’s father, Storm, is a retired lieutenant colonel and a civil engineer for the Department of Public Works at Fort Leavenworth. Her mother, Rana, volunteers with the Friends of the Frontier Army Museum. Both parents said they were proud of the recognition.
    “We knew that Morgan was going to receive an award, but did not know the details,” Storm said. “We were asked to hide so that it would be a complete surprise to her.”
    Rana, a former school teacher, said that both Morgan and her brother Cody, a sophomore at LHS, participate in the JROTC program at the school. She said her priority over the years has been using her time to support their activities and those of the family.
    “I’ve always thought it was important to stay involved by interacting with their lives,” Rana said. “I believed taking such an active role was so important that I chose to remain at home, rather than resume teaching.”
    Page 2 of 2 - Objectives of the Legion of Valor organization are to stimulate patriotism, instill national pride and foster interest in the armed forces.
    In 1957, the Legion of Valor concurrently created a Silver Cross for valor and a Bronze Cross for achievement.
    Hollister said the Legion of Valor developed the award criteria for the Bronze Cross in conjunction with the Army’s Reserve Officers Training Corps. He said the nomination process began last April and included several LHS cadets.
    “This is the first year our program has nominated one of our cadets for the award, and she is very deserving,” Hollister said. “We have a great group participating in the program again this year. Nominating someone came down to using a similar vetting process we used to select our battalion commander.”
    Savage said it was nice to have both of her parents there for the presentation. She said their support is essential to her success.
    “My family is very supportive. I’m so excited for my future career and plans,” Savage said. “Our JROTC cadre is excellent, and the opportunity of being considered by them for this (Legion of Valor) is an honor.”
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