Wednesday, October 15, 2008

World War II Medic John Savery Awarded Bronze Star for Battlefield Surgery

Below as a guest post is what Loretta Savery shared for the Facebook event Honor a Veteran at I found this so moving that I wanted to share it here. (The photo above is of John Savery in front of Notre Dame in Paris in 1945.)

My father John Savery was a newlywed from Queens, New York, when he was drafted right after Pearl Harbor. In basic training, the new recruits were awarded weekends off for excellence on the firing range. My dad was a great shot and was able to get off many weekends to visit his new wife.

In basic training, my dad gave a lot of thought to battle and recognized that he couldn't kill another human being; it went against everything he had been taught and that he believed was a part of his faith. He knew he had a duty to his country, so rather than apply for conscientious objector status -- which he told me he never considered -- he volunteered to be a medic.

My naive young dad believed that both sides would abide by the Geneva Convention and wouldn't shoot at a medic or a Red Cross Medical tent. Instead, he was a sitting duck as the Germans tried to knock off the medical teams so that the American soldiers had no aid. Medics did not carry weapons and had no way to defend themselves.

My sisters and I are very proud of our dad, who served in Patton's Army in the invasion of North Africa, the invasion of Sicily, and battles throughout Italy and France. His battalion was never relieved and sent home; he served in Europe from mid-1942 until the end of the war.

My dad had to amputate a man's leg on the field of battle, with fighting going on around them, to save a man's life. Mind you -- my dad had only a high school education. The surgeon near him said, "you've seen me do it; I'll talk you through it, but the man I'm with needs me and if you don't amputate that soldier's leg -- he'll die". My dad was awarded the Bronze Star for that successful surgery.

My mom's and my dad's ashes are in the columbarium at Arlington National Cemetery, a fitting tribute to a couple who sacrificed a lot for the country they loved.

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