HERO FROM HAPPY VALLEY: Bridge dedication held to honor LCpl. Wilson

Published 4:21 pm Monday, June 26, 2017

No other spot could be more fitting to honor the life of Carter County native LCpl. Harold W. Wilson.
Several citizens, state and local government officials joined together Monday morning for the bridge dedication ceremony on U.S. 321/SR 67 above Happy Valley Road to honor LCpl. Wilson, who lost his life March 21, 1966, in Vietnam.
With assistance from the Elizabethton Fire Department, Tennessee Highway Patrol and members of Rolling Thunder Tennessee Chapter, Monday’s ceremony saw several passersby on the interstate slow their speed during the ceremony to honor the fallen soldier as the American flag flew proud atop a fire engine.
It was a good way to see the government working speedily, Commissioner Bobbie Gouge-Dietz joked at the beginning of the meeting. Thanks to work by the Carter County Commission passing a resolution to honor LCpl. Wilson, the General Assembly was able to get the bridge dedication taken care of this year. Speaker of the Senate Randy McNally, Representatives John Holsclaw Jr. and Timothy Hill, and Senators Rusty Crowe and Jon Lundberg each signed off on the measure and the proclamation, which was read during Monday’s event.
“We see in the 24/7 news cycle everything that’s wrong in the world,” Rep. Hill said. “Even just for a few moments, we get to be together today and talk about what’s right with our country. We get to celebrate the love of a community and a community that will never forget. This marker is the closest thing we come to as far as a permanent honor and permanent recognition. It’s my honor to be able to participate from the House side and State side and it’s a delight to be here today to remember Mr. Wilson.”
Sen. Crowe took time to read over the proclamation issued by the state, which highlighted LCpl. Wilson’s life and academic and athletic prowess at Happy Valley High School.
“Lance Corporal Wilson’s dedication to excellence in military and his love of family, his fellow soldiers, and his country are exemplified in his sacrifice of life itself in defense of all that he held dear and stand as enduring examples of all the characteristics that have ensured the continued freedom of our nation and the preservation of its deals over the course of our history,” a portion of the proclamation read.
The senator took time to praise the efforts of LCpl. Wilson and his comrades that were on hand for the ceremony. Randy Kington, who served alongside Wilson, along with Skip Seeley and Gary Canter, were each in attendance to recognize their brother-in-arms.
Kington, who penned the book “What a Life: How the Vietnam War Affected One Marine,” served in Vietnam as a rifleman and platoon radio operator with Echo Company, 2nd Battalion. During an assault on the North Vietnamese in 1966, the Marines were able to secure victory, but over 90 Marines, including Wilson, lost their lives in the tragic battle.
Kington was injured in the battle and is now confined to a wheelchair, but his sacrifice, along with the lives sacrificed by others over the years in combat, was able to be highlighted Monday.
The retired Marine spoke to attendees and alluded to the fact the sacrifices of the men and women in Vietnam helped end the Cold War, as stated by former President Ronald Reagan.
Kington went on to share a story of a French soldier in 1915 that was being tended to by doctors. While serving his country proudly, doctors were unable to save his arm. Even though doctors showed remorse for being unable to help, the French soldier said it was OK and that he gave the extremity for his country.
“If we could all tell him that we’re sorry that his life had to be taken so young, I believe Harold would say ‘you did not take my all, I gave my all for my country, the United States of America’,” an emotional Kington said.
Clayton Wilson, nephew of Harold, also talked about his uncle’s time in Carter County and how the bridge dedication is fitting that people can see his sign with Happy Valley High School off in the distance — where he is a recognized hero for the time served overseas and also remembered for his standout career as a Warrior athlete.
Commissioner Gouge-Dietz and Susan Robinson, representing the office of Carter County Mayor Leon Humphrey, also praised the efforts of Wilson and thanked him for sacrifices to help ensure safety for residents back home.

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