On May 1, family and friends of First Lieutenant Howard 'Bob' Crothers will gather in New Martinsville to memorialize the sacrifice Lt. Crothers made for his country and to celebrate his life through the naming of a bridge in his honor. Lt. Crothers was killed in Vietnam on May 1, 1968.
Last summer, his friends, Fred and Marsha Hindman, Penny Morris, and Alan Tucker, initiated a project called "Remembering a Hometown Hero" to secure a permanent memorial for their good friend of many years ago. After noticing bridges that had been named in honor of fallen military heroes in other communities, Lt. Crothers' friends decided to pursue a similar bridge memorial for Crothers in his hometown.
Lt. Crothers' friends sought the guidance and assistance of Senator Larry Edgell (D-Wetzel) and Delegate Dave Pethtel (D-Wetzel). "Both were excited to lead the effort to secure a bridge memorial for Lt. Crothers," said Tucker. Prior to their moving forward, it was recommended that the New Martinsville City Council and Wetzel County Commissioners approve the initiative and, subsequently, both bodies unanimously supported the project.
West Virginia Senate President Jeff Kessler presents the official Senate Concurrent Resolution No. 19, which describes the naming of the state Route 2 bridge crossing Fishing Creek as the “Lt. Howard ‘Bob’ Crothers’ Memorial Bridge” to Lt. Col. Alan Tucker, USAF Retired. Those participating in the March 16 ceremony were, from left, Fred Hindman, Penny Morris, Marsha Hindman, Senator Kessler, Colonel Tucker, Delegate Dave Pethtel, and Senator Larry Edgell.
In the recent Legislative Session, West Virginia Senate President Jeff Kessler (D-Marshall) and Sen. Edgell sponsored Senate Concurrent Resolution Number 19. SCR 19 was unanimously approved in both houses in late February 2012. Del. Pethtel led the initiative in the House of Representatives. The resolution reads as follows:
"Requesting the Division of Highways to name the bridge on WV Route 2, crossing Fishing Creek in Wetzel County, bridge number 52-2-5.19, as the "Lt. Howard R. 'Bob' Crothers Memorial Bridge".
"Whereas, Lt. Howard R. 'Bob' Crothers was born January 22, 1942, in New Martinsville, West Virginia, the only son of Mrs. Billy Jeffers; and
"Whereas, Lt. Howard R. 'Bob' Crothers was a graduate of Magnolia High School, where he played football, basketball and baseball, and West Liberty State College, where he joined the ROTC; and
"Whereas, Lt. Howard R. 'Bob' Crothers achieved the rank of First Lieutenant before being deployed to Vietnam on March 7, 1968, as the Infantry Unit Commander of A Company, 4th Battalion, 31st Infantry, 197th Light Infantry Brigade, Americal Division; and
"Whereas, Lt. Howard R. 'Bob ' Crothers served his country with honor and distinction until he was killed in action on May 1, 1968, in the Thua Thien Province, South Vietnam, the result of wounds received from a hostile booby trap; and
"Whereas, Lt. Howard R. 'Bob' Crothers was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart Medal, the Bronze Star Medal, the National Defense Medal, the Vietnam Service Medal, the Vietnam Campaign Ribbon, and the Combat Infantry Badge; and
"Whereas, it is fitting and proper that Lt. Howard R. 'Bob' Crothers be remembered and acknowledged for his courageous action and ultimate sacrifice; therefore, be it
"Resolved by the Legislature of West Virginia:
"That the Legislature hereby requests the Division of Highways to name bridge number 52-2-5.19 on WV Route 2, crossing Fishing Creek in Wetzel County, as the "Lt. Howard R. 'Bob' Crothers Memorial Bridge"; and, be it
"Further Resolved, That the Division of Highway is hereby requested to have made and be placed signs identifying the bridge as the "Lt. Howard R. 'Bob' Crothers Memorial Bridge"; and, be it
"Further Resolved, That the Clerk of the Senate is hereby directed to forward a certified copy of this resolution to the Secretary of the Department of Transportation; and to the family of Lt. Howard R. 'Bob' Crothers."
Lt. Crothers' family and friends are extremely grateful to Sen. Edgell, Sen. Kessler, and Del. Pethtel for their support and leadership in making Lt. Crothers' memorial a reality. "This was the critical piece to the 'Remembering a Hometown Hero' project," said Tucker.
The project will culminate with the unveiling of the memorial signs on May 1 at 11 a.m. on-site at the state Route 2 Bridge that crosses Fishing Creek in New Martinsville. Following the memorial, a celebratory lunch will be held with the location to be determined.