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Bridge will be lasting tribute

His life might have been cut too short, but area residents now have the chance to remember Gary Alcott Birkhimer.

Birkhimer, who served as a private first class in the Army during the Korean War, was killed on April 11, 1951. He was serving with the 17th infantry regiment and firing shells from a mortar when the launcher become overheated and exploded, family members were told. Compounding the tragedy was the knowledge that he had only two months left on his tour of duty.

And now, 69 years later, he has been honored by having his name added to the recently refurbished bridge that carries traffic from the Harmon Creek exit of U.S. Route 22 to Colliers.

His family remembers him as a happy and hard-working child and young man, who enjoyed playing baseball, working on cars and doing the jitterbug. And while he wasn’t above the occasional prank, his remaining relatives said they shared plenty of good times while growing up and working on the family’s farm in the King’s Creek area and their grandmother’s farm nearby.

Efforts to have the bridge named in Birkhimer’s honor were led by his cousin, Virgil Birkhimer, who worked with state Sen. Ryan Weld, R-Wellsburg, who sponsored a resolution that was supported in the Senate and the House of Delegates.

It is a fitting tribute to a young man who enlisted in the service and was willing to serve his country, even though his letters home showed he had serious questions about the war effort, and a legacy all can remember when traveling across that bridge.

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