Hicks awarded Legislative medal

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, June 10, 2003

The Legislature of Alabama awarded the prestigious Legislative Medal of Honor for Law Enforcement Officers to Larry Hicks of Troy at a ceremony at the Alabama State House Tuesday.

Hicks, an enforcement officer for the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, received the recognition before both houses of the Legislature, family and friends.

The Legislative Medal of Honor for Law Enforcement is the state's highest law enforcement award and given for extraordinary courage in the line of duty.

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On April 19, 2002, Hicks risked his life to save that of the pilot of a plane that had gone down in a small lake behind his home.

He had to dive repeatedly into 12 feet of water that was covered with explosive aviation fuel before he was able to locate the pilot, release his safety harness, pull him from the plane and revive him.

Hicks received chemical burns over 50 percent of his body and ingested aviation fuel in his lungs. The pilot of the plane, Jack Roush, NASCAR owner of four Winston Cup Teams and two Busch Series Teams, is one of the most prominent personalities in racing today.

The House of Representatives presented a resolution to Hicks which identified him as a worthy exemplar of those caring and dedicated men and women who stand ever ready to provide prompt and professional response in times of threat or crisis.

Gov. Bob Riley congratulated Hicks on the award and said he has tried to find a word to describe Hick's heroic deed.

Riley said there are many words that could be used to describe the act, from courage to guts. But the one that best defines and explains the selfless act is love.

"No other word except love can define or explain it," Riley said. "In the Book of John, it is written that there is no greater love than this - that a man lay down his life for a friend. Larry Hicks risked his life for a stranger. No word other than love can explain it. All we can do is admire him and thank him."

Lt. Gov. Lucy Baxley said that Hicks' deed was an example of the "salt of the earth goodness" of the people of Alabama.

"Jack Roush received an incredible miracle from the Almighty God. I am so blessed to work for and serve the type of people that you represent," Baxley told Hicks.

Several of Alabama's elected representatives took the podium to congratulate Hicks and a short video was played telling the story of the rescue in Hicks' own words. The video also featured Roush, who spoke of the deep and lasting friendship that has developed between him and Hicks.

Hicks graciously and humbly accepted the award and expressed appreciation for the recognition and the kind words.

"I hope I can live up to the expectations," he said. "But, I put the honor in Jesus Christ because without Him we could do nothing."

Rep. Alan Boothe said he joined all Pike Countians in congratulating Hicks on being named the recipient of the Alabama Legislative Medal of Honor for Law Enforcement.

"This award is another in a long list of awards that Larry has received in the past few months," Boothe said. "This just goes to show the quality of people living and working in Alabama. Larry is an outstanding person and I am proud to call him and his wife, Donna my friends."

Hicks has been inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame, presented the Racing Angel Award and the Heroes Among Us Award and featured in People Magazine and Sports Illustrated. In recognition of his military service, an article was written about him in Leatherneck, the magazine of the United States Marines. Hicks is a retired Marine Corps sergeant major.