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Memorial Bridge project keeps veterans’ stories, sacrifices alive


The Lower Bucks County Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund and the County of Bucks are working together to dedicate bridges across the county for the 136 veterans who never returned from the conflict.

“The whole point, as we always said, let him live on, let his memory live on, but his spirit lives on as well. This bridge will bring that spirit alive,” said Ed Preston.

He’s chairman of the Memorial Fund and he spoke those words on Oct. 31 at the sixth recent bridge dedication ceremony, this one for Staff Sgt. Karol Raymond Bauer.

The 28-year-old Marine was killed April 30, 1967, while leading a platoon at Khe Sanh in Vietnam’s Quang Tri Province during the Vietnam War. His span is Bucks County Bridge 36 along Stockton Avenue in New Hope

Keeping veterans’ stories and memories alive has been the mission of LBCVVMF, as more time passes from the Vietnam War.

The partnership with the county started a little over a year ago but they have accomplished a great deal together.

They’ve honored six veterans so far — U.S. Army Lance Cpl. Kenneth G. Woorman; U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. David John Ortals; U.S. Army 2nd Lt. William James Erkes; U.S. Army Warrant Officer William Warren Breece; U.S. Army Private First Class Allan George Griffin; and Staff Sgt. Bauer.

Staff Sgt. Bauer’s dedication was the last one for the year, and both the county and the organization have high hopes of accomplishing more next year.

“There’s just a real respect among everyone who works at the county for what these folks have given in service to their country and their community,” said James O’Malley, the county’s deputy director of communications. “You hear a lot, they’re out of there fighting for the person next to them. That’s one thing you’ll find if you look at the six bridges we’ve done. All these guys were young men and their country called and they answered.”

The goal of the project is to have one bridge dedicated to every veteran, except those who have already been honored in other ways, such as the Harry J. Simmons Jr. Memorial Park.

It involves a great deal of research. Once it has a dedicated area, the LBCVVMF will then find the veteran who lived closest to it from a pool of names. Efforts are then made to locate any surviving family and involve them in the ceremony.

“Like most of you, I grew up with veterans in my family, maybe like most of you I didn’t always ask the questions, I didn’t ask about their story and there’s a sadness to that, that those stories don’t always get told or passed down,” said Bucks County Commissioner Bob Harvie at Bauer’s ceremony. “I’m proud that we are here today to be able to keep Staff Sgt. Bauer’s story alive.”

The vision is not only to remember the veterans but also for the community to get the opportunity to learn about those who bravely fought and lost their lives for their country.

Bridges are easier to rename, since changing a street name would involve multiple residents needing to change their deeds.

Preston, of the nonprofit LBCVVMF, raised about $220,000 with the group to create a Vietnam Veterans Memorial that displays the 93 names of troops from Lower Bucks who died and of the one still missing. The monument was dedicated on Sept. 26, 2021, in the Middletown Veterans Memorial Park.

Before that, Preston was instrumental in bringing the Vietnam Traveling Memorial Wall, a ⅗ replicate of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington D.C. to Penndel in July 2017.

The nonprofit has also worked with Hulmeville Borough to remember U.S. Army Sgt. James E Boorman on Praul Street, which was renamed as Sgt. James E Boorman Street. PennDOT also put a sign recognizing U.S. Marine Corps Private First Class John N Candy at the Hulmeville Avenue Bridge.

There are three other soldiers — PFC George Huntzinger, of Langhorne, PFC Hopson Covington, of Bristol, and PFC Robert Joseph Morris, of Oakford — expected to be recognized with PennDOT. The legislation has been passed, but the signs have yet to be erected.

“The nice thing with the county is they give us time and space to find the right bridge for men,” Preston said. “It allows us to find family members for each bridge we’ve done so far. They think their loved one is forgotten this lets them know that their name will be spoken forever.”

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