Columbus- State Sen. Sean O’Brien (D-Bazetta) announced today that his amendments to the General Assembly’s recently signed biennial transportation budget bill, House Bill (HB) 26, will re-name a highway and bridge after two Trumbull County citizens killed during the Vietnam War. Once the bill is enacted, the bridge spanning Meander Creek in Niles along state route (SR) 46 will be known as the “Sgt. Bruce R. Jones Memorial Bridge”, while SR 7 in Trumbull County between SR 82 and SR 62 will be known as the “Virginia E. ‘Ginny’ Kirsch Memorial Highway.”
“I was happy to have my highway and bridge re-naming amendments included in this year’s transportation budget bill,” said Sen. O’Brien. “The two individuals being memorialized through this legislation paid the ultimate price as a result of the war in Vietnam, and it is only right that they should be honored for their sacrifice all these years later.”
With the tragic distinction of being the first Ohioan named on the Vietnam Memorial Wall, Sgt. Bruce R. Jones was a resident of Niles serving with the 13th Tactical Fighter Squadron, 8th Tactical Fighter Wing, 13th Air Force when he was killed on August 10th, 1961. Ginny Kirsch, a graduate of Brookfield High School, was in Vietnam serving with the American Red Cross “Donut Dollie” program, which sent teams of young women to conduct morale-boosting audience participation programs for soldiers stationed there, when she was senselessly murdered in her quarters at the 25th U.S. Infantry Division base camp at Cu Chi, Vietnam during the middle of the night on August 16th, 1970.
“The sacrifices made by Americans during wartime come in all shapes and sizes,” continued O’Brien. “Although some might not serve on the front lines directly, the fact that these two brave Ohioans were killed abroad as a result of their wish to contribute to our country’s efforts in Vietnam more than warrants the renaming of these sites in their memory.”
Governor Kasich signed HB 26 on March 31st. Since bills not containing an emergency clause go into effect 90-days after the governor’s signature, the new road names are set to take effect on June 31st. Official memorial signs will be installed at the highway and bridge sites by ODOT crews on or around that date.