SIOUX FALLS (KELO) — A highly-traveled bridge in Sioux Falls now serves as a concrete memorial to one of the first people from Sioux Falls killed during the Vietnam War. The 41st Street bridge, near O’Gorman High School, is now named after an O’Gorman graduate who died during his very first combat mission in 1968.
The 41st Street Bridge over the Big Sioux River spans the decades to honor a soldier who died serving his country nearly 53-years ago.
“It’s really difficult to come up with some idea that you can give some sort of tribute to some of the people that have died in combat and this was one that just kind of sprung to mind,” classmate Pat Murphy said.
Vietnam veteran Pat Murphy petitioned the city to get the bridge named after his O’Gorman High School classmate Kirby Daugherty, a private first-class in the infantry when he was killed in 1968.
“Went through about 10 different advisory boards and department heads before it finally got to the full council and the mayor on March 16th and they unanimously approved it so it took roughly 6-months,” Murphy said.
The memorial is just downhill from O’Gorman High School. A fitting location since Dougherty was part of the very first 4-year class at O’Gorman.
“When I heard that they were thinking of doing it right here, I thought, couldn’t be more fitting. He loved O’Gorman, he was a proud alumni of this school,” Daugherty’s sister Nancy Preston said.
Two years ago, people gathered at St. Michael Cemetery for a graveside service giving Daugherty full military honors. Now, the 41st Street bridge, in the shadow of O’Gorman, serves as a history lesson in heroism.
“It’s kind of a living civics lesson that they can look at every day,” Murphy said.
Murphy hopes more people will start the process of officially recognizing the sacrifices of others who died in Vietnam.
Some 40-thousand vehicles drive over the memorial bridge every day.