Darren Doyle, story:
John and Marsha Hammons of Otter Gap Road spoke at today's fiscal court meeting about the possibilities of Edmonson County allowing county roads to be memorialized in the names of fallen soldiers from Edmonson County.
The couple spoke specifically about Noah Bledsoe Road, near the Edmonson/Warren line, which was the home of U.S. Army Specialist Fourth Class Elzie Sanders, Jr., who was killed in action on November 12, 1967 in the Vietnam war. Mr. Hammons said that he was a childhood friend of Sanders and wanted to honor him in a way that has not been done before.
The couple proposed footing the bill for a new sign to be installed that would not rename Noah Bledsoe, but would state something similar to: "This Road In Honor of Elzie Sanders, Jr.," and include service and date information.
Judge Wil Cannon said he was in favor of passing a county ordinance that would allow such signage, but with certain regulations to ensure all county roads would follow the same stipulations. He also suggested that the memorialization would only be in the names of soldiers who had paid the ultimate price in battle, which was their lives.
Judge Cannon asked for discussion from the magistrates and all were in favor of discussing the steps to pass an ordinance in an upcoming committee meeting that would be held this week. Cannon said that the county road department would be in charge of installing any signs once approved and that the signs would be sponsored by private donations, not taxpayer money.
The Hammons' spoke with the Edmonson Voice after the meeting.
"Elzie and I grew up together," John said. "We hunted and fished together, we rode bikes together, he was a dear friend. When he died, nobody really did anything for his family and he grew up on that road (Noah Bledsoe). The least we can do is honor him with a sign, and I don't expect the county to pay for it, we'll take care of the costs."
Hammons also said he had spoken to the late Mr. Sanders' sister, Linda Hodges, who also lives on the same road with her husband, J.D. Hodges. She is also in favor of the signage.
"Johnny (Hammons) contacted me and asked if this was okay because he didn't want to cause any hurt or pain and I said 'Oh, this is wonderful!' One of my biggest fears is that Junior would be forgotten after I'm gone."
Mrs. Hodges was 15 years old when her older brother was killed in action. She said that Sanders was an army radio operator. The medic with their company had both of his hands horribly injured and was giving Sanders instructions as to how to run IVs and give others emergency treatment. Sanders saved two other soldiers by giving them the care they needed. He was shot and killed in the process.
"I know he was my brother, but he really was a war hero," said Mrs. Hodges.
Sanders was posthumously awarded the Silver Star.
Mrs. Hodges said she has met both men saved by her brother and they went on to live very successful lives. "They're both wonderful men," she said.
Judge Cannon said he was looking forward to further discussion about the possible ordinance later in the week.