Jackson State University President Carolyn W. Meyers on Thursday, May 8, presented six individuals with the JSU Presidential Medallion for their heroic actions to protect and care for students following a bus fire earlier this week.
Those receiving the honor were motor coach operators, L.J. Whitaker and Deangelo Henderson; Wayne Goodwin, associate vice president for Facilities and Construction Management; baseball Coach Omar Johnson; Sanford Winfield, general manager of Sodexo Magic, and Terry Woodard, district manager of Sodexo Magic, which is the university’s food service vendor.
“The mark of an extraordinary team is the assigning of themselves to ensure the best interests of the university are represented. My executive team swung into action, everyone doing what they could wherever necessary, in their area of responsibility or not,” Meyers said. “It is my pleasure to present my special acknowledgement – the Presidential Medallion – to a few folks who assigned themselves even before I had the chance to assign them.”
The bus carrying JSU’s baseball team caught fire May 5 outside of Birmingham, Ala. No injuries were reported.
Meyers cited Whitaker for clearing the bus in three minutes before the fire broke out. Whitaker contacted Henderson, who added ”his experience and counsel when needed most,” she said.
Goodwin already had bus emergency management and risk management en route when Meyers contacted him, she said.
Meyers said Johnson “helped get the riders off the bus quickly, tried to put the fire out, ingested a little bit of smoke and lost all of his personal possessions and baseball gear.” She said praised the coach’s commitment to staying with the team throughout the experience.
Finally, Sodexo Magic made sure the players had a hot meal when they arrived back at campus that night.
Winfield said the company initially was asked if boxed meals could be prepared.
“I thought, ‘Something on this level, we need to give them a full-blown meal,” Winfield said as he held the Presidential Medallion.
He then added: “This is the biggest honor of my life. I’m so glad to know that we really met President Meyers’ expectations.”