London man presented with highest award from France

By: Paige Quiggins Email
By: Paige Quiggins Email

Retired Major General Donald Storm came to a London man's home on Aug. 19 to present him with the highest honor given in France.

Second Lieutenant Herbert Verrill was presented a Knight of the Legion of Honor medal sent from the French president Nicolas Sarcozy for his acts of valor during World War II while he served in the United States Army.

Storm saluted Verrill and then the veteran saluted America. He was the recipient of dozens of other medals, including a purple heart.

Verrill was leading his platoon when a shu mine blew off his foot. He then directed his men away from the mine field with arm and hand signals, saving many lives.

"Three scouts I told them follow me, thing is, if you follow me, you probably won't get hit with another mine," said Verrill.

"We directed them to the right, away from the mines and it worked and that's all I know," he added.

Verrill said he did not recall exactly how many men survived, but that the platoon started out with 40 men.

"The mine was made of wood so they couldn't be detected," said nephew Michael Dixon.

"He is a hero, even though he would not say it that way himself," said Dixon.

The 91-year-old was a member of the 100th infantry division. He is the father of three and has been married to his wife Shirley for 47 years.

Verrill has terminal lung cancer, yet his family said he was active, mowing the lawn up until last month.

"We have had a great 47 years," said his wife.

Knox County Judge Executive David Westerfield also came to the presentation and requested to shake his hand.

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