The United States’ first bridge to be named Medal of Honor Bridge was dedicated in Lafayette, Ind., May 6, 2011 in honor of the medal’s recipients. The bridge is located in the Hoosier Heartland Corridor and follows Country Road 500 East.
The Congressional Medal of Honor is the nation’s highest award for valor in combat against an enemy. The medal was signed into law during the Civil War in 1861 by President Abraham Lincoln.
There were seven Medal of Honor recipients that participated in the bridge dedication. The recipients were Sammy Davis, U. S. Army, Herald Fritz, U. S. Army, Don Jenkins, U. S. Army, Ken Stumpf, U. S. Army, Ronald Rosser, U. S. Army, Leo Thorsness, U. S. Air Force, and Hershel “Woody” Williams, U. S. Marine Corps. Each recipient was escorted by a service member from their respective service.
Williams is the last surviving Medal of Honor recipient from the Battle on Iwo Jima during World War II. In his citation it is said that Williams fought for hours supported by only four other Marines and managed to single handedly knock out an enemy machine gun emplacement and charge enemy riflemen killing them with bursts from his flamethrower.
The day began at the Caterpillar factory in Lafayette, Ind., with a breakfast and tour of the facilities. After the tour, the recipients were flown to Faith Community Center, Lafayette, Ind., in a UH-1 Huey helicopter.
At the community center, there was a brief ceremony unveiling the signs that will be posted on the bridge. Once the ceremony was over, the recipients returned to the helicopter and flew to the Medal of Honor Bridge.
Once the helicopter landed on the bridge, the recipients got off and cut the ribbon officially opening the bridge. At the end of the day, the recipients held a symposium at Jefferson High School, Lafayette, Ind., to answer questions and speak a little about themselves and what the medal means.
“The medal doesn’t stand for hatred; it stands for love.” said Sammy Davis, medal recipient and Indiana native. “It (the medal) is for the love you have for your brother on the battlefield with you.”