The four-lane connecting McMinnville to Woodbury will be named The Gold Star Families Memorial Highway.
Members of the Warren County Commission voted unanimously to name Highway 70 South, State Route 1, in honor of family members who have lost sons, daughters and family members while serving their country in the United States Armed Forces.
County Executive John Pelham said state Sen. Jim Tracy had sponsored a bill to name the highway in honor of the families.
Resolution 9-2014 states, “... hundreds of thousands of brave American men and women have served their country in the United States Armed Forces,” and many have lost their lives defending our country.
The resolution goes on to state, “Warren County supports the efforts of the Tennessee General Assembly to honor our fallen heroes and their families by naming State Route 1 The Gold Star Families Memorial Highway in memory of those who gave their lives so we might enjoy the many bounties of democracy and the American way of life.”
Two signs are to be placed where State Route 1 enters Warren County. Pelham said the signs will cost approximately $100 each with funding for the signs coming from the county.
He said the highway will be called Gold Star Families Memorial Highway but sections of the road or bridges can be named after war veterans or other Warren countians.
The resolution passed 20-0 and should take effect immediately.
Commissioners Sally Brock, Ron Lee and Bessie Smithson were absent.
Toward the end of the meeting, before being adjourned, Commissioner Clinton “Pee Wee” Hill said, “I have been here eight years and met with people three years ago trying to get a sign up in memory of Joe Delong who was killed in service. But, the sign still has not been put up. I’ve only got four more meetings before I’m gone.”
Hill said he had tried to get a sign memorializing Delong erected in the Irving College area.
Commissioner Gary Prater said, “I don’t want a little section of road up in Irving College named after Mr. Delong. I think he deserves better. I’m sorry you only have four more meetings but when we can get that bridge or part of road named after him, I will call you and tell you. I’ve got to wait until the road is finished and bridges are built before we can name something after him.”
Hill said “I don’t care where they put the sign, I just want it put up.”
Pelham said Joe Delong is the only Warren County veteran whose body was never returned. His body was lost at war.
Pelham said, “This is why we wanted it in writing that we can still name a section of the road after our home veterans is we choose to do so.”
Prater said Highway 70 has always been named Veterans Highway and sections of the road or bridges can be designated a separate name if the county votes to approve the name.
U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Joe Lynn Delong was exactly one month shy of his 20th birthday when he went missing in action during the Vietnam War. He was later believed to have been killed as a prisoner of war. His body was never recovered.
Staff Sgt. Delong is memorialized on Panel 20E, Row 20 of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C.