South Dakota bridges will honor ‘fallen heroes’

Capitol News Bureau

PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — The state Transportation Commission agreed Thursday to help Governor Kristi Noem name bridges for South Dakotans who died heroes.

The governor plans the first announcement September 20 in Hot Springs, during the celebration marking the 130th anniversary of the State Veterans Home there, state Transportation Secretary Darin Bergquist said.

Two other state departments — Military and Veterans Affairs — will identify people to be honored, with the Transportation Commission giving final approval, according to Bergquist.

In 2002, then-Governor Bill Janklow had the four-lane bridge over the Missouri River between Pierre and Fort Pierre named for Lieutenant Commander John Waldron, a U.S. Navy pilot who was born at Fort Pierre.

Waldron led 15 torpedo bombers in an attack on Japanese warships at the Battle of Midway in World War II. All 15 planes were shot down and 29 of the 30 fliers died during the mission, including Waldron.

Bergquist said he expects six bridges named per year under the governor’s program. He said the heroes would come from different eras and regions.

“Personally I think it is a very good project,” Bergquist said.

Commissioner Rod Fouberg of Aberdeen agreed. A cousin of his died in the U.S. conflict in Korea. “He was my hero,” Fouberg said.

The governor plans to name a bridge in Fall River County to honor Lt. Maynard Freemole, an Army pilot from Edgemont, S.D., who died December 16, 1943, when his B-17 was shot down after a bombing attack in Germany.

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