Ceremony to Honor Local Fallen Soldiers

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Ceremony to Honor Local Fallen Soldiers

Event will Dedicate Four Heroes Way Interstate Interchanges

JEFFERSON CITY -- On Saturday, May 22nd at 1 p.m., community members will gather to honor those in Southeast Missouri who have given the ultimate sacrifice to protect our freedoms. At the ceremony, Heroes Way Interstate Interchange signs will be unveiled and dedicated for four local soldiers killed in action while serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. Saturday's event is open to the public and will take place at the Jackson Armory located at 224 West Park Street in Jackson, MO

The Heroes Way Interstate Interchange Designation Program was created last year and allows interstate interchanges to be named for service members who were killed in action in Iraq and Afghanistan. As part of this tribute to our fallen soldiers, two memorial signs will be erected in the North/South or East/West directions of the designated interstate interchange in remembrance of their sacrifice.

"We cannot let the memories of those who fought for all the rights we all too often take for granted fade" said Sen. Jason Crowell, the legislation's sponsor. "I was honored to work with family members of Southeast Missouri fallen soldiers, the Missouri Department of Transportation, and others to develop a program to honor these brave men and women."

Ross Gartman, a Missouri National Guardsman, was the inspiration behind Heroes Way. His friend and fellow soldier, Staff Sgt. Bradley J. Skelton of Gordonville, was killed by an explosion in Baghdad on Feb. 6, 2008. Ross and others wanted to honor those who gave their lives in the defense of our freedoms.

Ross Gartman explained that "Heroes Way provides communities throughout Missouri with an opportunity to acknowledge the loss they all feel when one of their own is killed in combat. We are memorializing our heroic soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines who do not return home to their family and friends."

In addition to Staff Sgt. Bradley J. Skelton, the soldiers from our community who lost their lives in Operation Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom are:

Sergeant Robert G. Davis of Jackson: August 18, 2005

Specialist Blake W. Hall of East Prairie: August 21, 2005

Corporal Jeremy R. Shank of Jackson: September 6, 2006

Sergeant Adam J. Kohlhaas of Perryville: April 21, 2008

Staff Sergeant Charles R. Sanders, Jr. of Charleston: April 6, 2005

Family members and friends of the four soldiers honored on Saturday submitted their loved one's name to the Missouri Department of Transportation for this recognition. In order to be eligible for recognition, an individual must have been killed in action during active military duty in Afghanistan or Iraq on or after September 11, 2001, and must have sponsorship from at least one member of the General Assembly.

The cost of the two designation signs is $2,200 and organizers have started Heroes Way Inc; a nonprofit to raise money for other qualifying military members in the state who have made the ultimate sacrifice. To date, organizers and fundraisers have raised over $13,000 for Heroes Way statewide. For more information on Heroes Way Inc. and how to donate, contact Ross Gartman at g.man1212@hotmail.com

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