More S.D. bridges will honor ‘Fallen Heroes’

Capitol News Bureau

PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — One dozen bridges in South Dakota will be dedicated this year to the memories of 13 armed forces veterans who died in active service or are classified as missing in action.

The South Dakota Transportation Commission accepted recommendations Thursday from the state Department of Veterans Affairs.

Their agreement for what’s known as the Fallen Heroes bridge dedication program calls for honoring up to six per year, but the state Transportation Commission agreed there could be more.

Governor Kristi Noem started Fallen Heroes in 2019. Honored that year was Second Lieutenant Maynard Freemole of Hot Springs.

The 2020 honorees were SFC Richard Schild of Yankton; Sergeant Allen Kokesh Jr. of Yankton; Sergeant Daniel Busse of Highmore; and Staff Sergeant Jason Montefering and Sergeant Jeremiah J. Boehmer, both of Parkston.

Lance Corporal Conrad Lee Flying Horse of McIntosh will be honored May 15.

The 2021 list of honorees includes seven who died in World War II, one in the Korean War, three in the Vietnam War, and two in the Afghanistan/Iraq wars.

Audry Ricketts, representing the state Department of Veterans Affairs, said 27 nominations were received for this year by the April 1 deadline. She said the department will start working with families on choosing bridges and the dedications will be scheduled during the months of June through November “so we are doing them in good weather in South Dakota.”

Christina Bennett from the state Department of Transportation said the ceremonies are held off-site and SDDOT crews install the dedication signs at the bridges.

“The intent of this,” state Transportation Secretary Joel Jundt told the commission, “is to really honor those who have fallen.”

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He said more than 3,000 South Dakota veterans have died or are missing in action. He said there are enough bridges statewide, although locations might be geographically distant from hometowns.

“I know from what we’re hearing there’s a lot more than six a year,” Jundt said.

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