A bridge over the New River on Peppers Ferry Road will be designated the “Vietnam Veterans Memorial Bridge.” The Virginia General Assembly passed the measure last month, and a special ceremony will be held this summer.
Del. Nick Rush was instrumental in its passing and believes it to be a worthy cause.
“It has been a long time coming. Vietnam Vets sacrificed so much for this country and asked for nothing in return. The designation is a fitting tribute to their service,” he said.
Having served in the military makes it even more special for Rush. Both of his grandfathers served in the military during World War I, and his father was in the Army during the Vietnam War but was not deployed in the Asian conflict.
Also, both of Rush’s sons are currently serving in the U.S. Army in the Middle East.
Rush also thought the proximity of the bridge to the Radford Army Ammunition Plant makes the designation even more important.
“The Radford plant has long been important in the service of this country,” he said.
The bridge is along a busy thoroughfare that stretches across the New River between Montgomery and Pulaski counties.
The two localities have both agreed to cover the cost of signage ($500) on their respective sides of the bridge.
Rush and fellow delegate Joseph Yost sponsored the bill after being approached by NRV members of the Daughters of the American Revolution.
Janet Tabor with the DAR said she believes this designation will honor a group of people that have been forgotten.
In Pulaski County, the fallen Vietnam vets included Floyd Spencer, Marion Runion, Carl Gibson, Leonard Lee, Raymond Kilby and Phillip Long, while in Montgomery they were 14 individuals that died in the line of duty. They are: Henry T. Cox, Leon N. East, George A. Gerald, Charlie M. Gilmer, Paul L. Huff, Jimmy H. McClung, Charlie D. McGuinnes, Ward W. Mills Jr., Otis B. Sink, Arthur B. Smith, Fredrick F. Vandeusen, Robert W. Wade, Leon D. Willard and Walter Kosko.
In 2002, the bridge suffered major damage from a tractor-trailer, and in 2014 was replaced by what is now a four-lane bridge both east and west on Route 114.