Coast Guard names Cutters after local heroes

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wwltv.com

Posted on March 3, 2012 at 6:46 PM

Dennis Woltering / Eyewitness News
Email: dwoltering@wwltv.com | Twitter: @dwoltering

LOCKPORT, La. - The Coast Guard began replacing a portion of its aging fleet of Cutters on Friday with new fast response Cutters.

Officials gathered in Lockport to dedicate some of the new sentinel class of Cutters and to honor some very special heroes who served in the Coast Guard.

"Literally hundreds of jobs are being created right here in Louisiana thanks to the work on these Cutters," Governor Bobby Jindal said.

Other fleets have been named for islands and marine species. This one was named for enlisted heroes in the Coast Guard.

One Cutter was named for hero Margaret Madge Norvell.

Barbara Perronne, Norvell's great granddaughter, was among her descendants to witness the dedication.

"And she's credited with saving many lives. She raised two children in a lighthouse," Perronne said.

Norvell was a lighthouse keeper in the West End lighthouse and in two other lighthouses in the New Orleans area during her 41 year career in the Coast Guard.

"And her lighthouse was the only building remaining after a bad hurricane in 1903. She survived, she went into action. She almost single-handedly helped save 200 people in that Louisiana coastal community," Sen. David Vitter, R-La., said.

Years later, she was the keeper at the West End lighthouse, when a Navy plane went down on a stormy night in Lake Pontchartrain. She jumped into a rowboat by herself in the choppy waters.

"And rowed two hours in a rowboat to save a Navy pilot that had ditched in Lake Pontchartrain, and saved him," Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., said. 

A great grandson of Norvell's, Skip Jacobs, pointed out that she became a hero doing what was considered man's work in her day (the late 1800s and early 1900s.)

"I'm pretty proud of what she's done and left a legacy for her family members for years to come," Jacobs said.

Norvell's relatives said she became a lighthouse keeper after her husband (their great grandfather) drowned.

The Coast Guard said her devotion to duty saved the lives of countless sailors.

Norvell was one of 14 enlisted heroes honored with new Coast Guard Cutters named after them.

 

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