Signs to Honor Soldiers Who Gave Everything for Freedom

Memorial Day weekend will mark the unveiling of highway signs dedicating two Elm Grove area bridges to local Army soldiers who lost their lives in combat in Iraq.

At 2 p.m. May 24, a parade will begin at the S. Bridge in Elm Grove and travel across U.S. 40 to the Bridge Street bridge. Veterans and their families are invited to take part.

By proclamation from the West Virginia Legislature via Delegate Ryan Ferns and Erikka Storch, both R-Ohio, the S. Bridge will be renamed the Sgt. Matthew Hunter Bridge and the Bridge Street span will be christened the Capt. David VanCamp Bridge.

Hunter grew up in Valley Grove, graduated from Wheeling Park High School and earned a nursing degree from West Liberty State College. He joined the Army Reserves in 1992 and the Army in 1996. He served two tours in Korea before being deployed to Iraq as a medic. He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 502nd Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, the Screaming Eagles from Fort Campbell, Ky. He was killed on Jan. 23, 2006 in Baghdad when an improvised explosive device exploded near his patrol. He was 31.

VanCamp, also a WPHS graduate and member of the baseball team, was assigned to the 2nd Squadron, 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment at Fort Hood, Texas. He was commissioned in June 2002 as an armor officer and was assigned to Troop G, 2nd Squadron, 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment. He served in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation New Dawn. He and two other members of his unit died on June 29, 2011 of injuries sustained in an attack in Badrah, Iraq.

Both men were decorated members of their units. Hunter is buried in West Alexander Cemetery and VanCamp was laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va. Family and friends of the troops will be on hand for the parade and bridge dedications.

Carolyn Davis, a spokeswoman for the event, said the parade will include the Wheeling Park High School band, VFW Post 21 Color Guard, police and fire units from Triadelphia, Valley Grove and Wheeling.

“We invite anyone who would like to pay tribute to their veterans to march in the parade. They can carry pictures of their veterans and, of course, all veterans are welcome to be in the parade,” Davis said. “Being so close to Memorial Day we thought it would be a good time to unveil the bridge signs.”

Bob Robinson Chevrolet Buick and GMC Cadillac is loaning the use of several vehicles for the parade. A reception will be held at Bridge Street School after the parade.

Anyone with questions may call Davis at 304-830-2612.