Moriah Peterson, story and photos:
A ceremony to honor Noah Bledsoe Rd. to fallen soldier U.S. Army Specialist Elzie Sanders, Jr., who was killed in action on November 12, 1967 in the Vietnam War, was opened with prayer on Saturday morning at Otter Gap Church.
Longtime friend Raymond Durbin spoke first about Elzie Sanders stating “He is still my counselor, my go-to guy and the keeper of my secrets.” After Durbin’s tribute, Sheriff Shane Doyle sang "God Bless America."
Linda Hodges, sister of Elzie, addressed the crowd “Thank you all for giving up your busy day, I know Saturdays are busy, to help honor my brother. This is a great day, a blessing. Since my mom and dad passed, and when I’m gone, I was afraid he would be forgotten.”
During the ceremony VFW Commander Floyd Houston read remarks from Ronald Detmer, a fellow service member who was in Vietnam with Elzie Sanders Jr. :
“I would tell so many stories about Junior in the 7 months we were together in Vietnam, concluding with the day he was killed in action. During a firefight, he radioed back from their corner position that two were wounded and they were taking sniper fire from behind the lines. As the B Company senior medic, I moved up to their position and began to treat the man most seriously wounded, Carl Davis. Almost immediately, a bullet went through my left hand and split my right forearm and wrist wide open. Junior came to my side and stopped my arterial bleeding and bandaged me up, saving my life. Junior then took my med kit over to the wounded man, Carl. He was exposed to more gunfire and was fatally wounded. He was absolutely one of the bravest men I ever knew.”
Before revealing the road sign, Mrs. Hodges continued. “My brother probably walked more miles on this road than anybody did. When he got a bicycle, he rode many miles helping farmers that lived on this road, and when we got his car he burnt the tires off that car on Noah Bledsoe Rd. I hope this dedication is the first of many in the county. I know there are many heroes in our county that died in action.”
The sign on Noah Bledsoe Rd features all the medals Elzie Sanders Jr. received, which include the National Defense Service Medal, Vietnam Service Medal, Purple Heart for being wounded in combat, Bronze Medal for heroism and valor, and the Silver Star Medal, which is the 3rd highest medal for valor in our nation, along with his unit patch.
The dedication sign is located on Noah Bledsoe Rd right outside of the Otter Gap Church. Linda Hodges closed the ceromony stating “I hope in 100 years when people turn on Noah Bledsoe Rd they will see Elzie’s medals on his sign and know that he did something great.”