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Commander recognizes life saver at Cordell Hull Lake

Nashville District Public Affairs
Published Jan. 24, 2020
Lt. Col. Sonny B. Avichal, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District commander, poses with Kevin and Donna Jones Jan. 24, 2020 at Wildwood Resort and Marina at Cordell Hull Lake in Granville, Tennessee. The commander presented the Department of the Army Commander’s Award for Public Service for his actions to rescue a patron whose vehicle entered the water at the boat ramp Aug. 5, 2019. (USACE photo by Ashley Webster)

Lt. Col. Sonny B. Avichal, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District commander, poses with Kevin and Donna Jones Jan. 24, 2020 at Wildwood Resort and Marina at Cordell Hull Lake in Granville, Tennessee. The commander presented the Department of the Army Commander’s Award for Public Service for his actions to rescue a patron whose vehicle entered the water at the boat ramp Aug. 5, 2019. (USACE photo by Ashley Webster)

Lt. Col. Sonny B. Avichal, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District commander, poses with Kevin and Donna Jones Jan. 24, 2020 at Wildwood Resort and Marina at Cordell Hull Lake in Granville, Tennessee. The commander presented the Department of the Army Commander’s Award for Public Service for his actions to rescue a patron whose vehicle entered the water at the boat ramp Aug. 5, 2019. (USACE photo by Ashley Webster)

Lt. Col. Sonny B. Avichal, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District commander, poses with Kevin and Donna Jones Jan. 24, 2020 at Wildwood Resort and Marina at Cordell Hull Lake in Granville, Tennessee. The commander presented the Department of the Army Commander’s Award for Public Service for his actions to rescue a patron whose vehicle entered the water at the boat ramp Aug. 5, 2019. (USACE photo by Ashley Webster)

GRANVILLE, Tenn. (Jan. 24, 2020) – The Army commander charged with managing public lands and waters at Cordell Hull Lake recognized the owner of Wildwood Resort and Marina today for rescuing a person in distress at the boat ramp Aug. 5, 2019.

Lt. Col. Sonny B. Avichal, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District commander, presented Kevin Jones with the Department of the Army Commander’s Award for Public Service for his actions that day.

According to the citation, awarded by Maj. Gen. Robert F. Whittle Jr., commanding general of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Great Lakes and Ohio River Division, Jones responded when a truck, trailer and vessel descended uncontrollably down the boat ramp. Without hesitation, he entered the water to assist a man who called out for help and could not swim.

“You might have been just doing your job to do a great act,” Avichal said, “but the U.S. Army and Corps of Engineers really does appreciate it.”

Jones said he knows the award is prestigious, an honorable award, but he just did what anyone would do given the situation.

“When I went to bed that night, it wasn’t a prideful thought that I saved somebody,” Jones said.  “I was just thanking God that at the age of 58 I still had the ability to sprint 75 yards and had the knowledge to get in the water and pull him up… I don’t think I would have been able to live with myself if he would have died because I was out of shape. I thank God I had the stamina and ability to do it.”

Cordell Hull Lake Resource Manger Jamie Summers said Jones acted quickly and performed a courageous act that deserves recognition by everyone on the lake and in surrounding communities.

“I think this is one of the highest awards a civilian can receive and it’s a huge honor,” Summers explained.

Summers said Jones and his wife Donna, along with the entire marina staff, have used the incident to focus even more on making water safety a priority. They have installed lifesaving throw rings, educated their staff to be aware and vigilant, and the facility is a much safer area.

The park rangers at Cordell Hull Lake urge visitors to wear life jackets when recreating on or near the water, and to be prepared for situations like what happened at the boat ramp in August. The public can visit www.pleasewearit.com for more information about water and boating safety.

For more news, updates and information please follow the Nashville District on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/nashvillecorps and Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/nashvillecorps. The public can also follow Cordell Hull Lake on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/cordellhulllake.

(Editor’s Note: Park Ranger Ashley Webster contributed to this article)