☷Sill dedicates bridge to Soldier killed in Vietnam
U.S. Army ( By Press Release office)
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Photo of Master Sgt . Michael Werdehoff in front of the memorial to fallen Soldiers . Elfriede Werdehoff hangs the framed photographs of her husband , Master Sgt . Michael Werdehoff , in the Hall of Remembrance . Elfriede Werdehoff and Keith Powers admire the picture of Master Sgt . Michael Werdehoff . Framed photograph of Master Sgt . Michael Werdehoff among the other heroes in the Hall of Remembrance . Elfriede Werdehoff and Oklahoma State Senator John Montgomery unveil the sign that will be placed on Highway 49 . Elfriede Werdehoff and daughter , Carol Maersch , pose in front of the bridge sign memorializing Master Sgt . Michael Werdehoff . Bridge sign memorializing Master Sgt . Michael Werdehoff . Fort Sill , Oklahoma ( April 22 , 2022 ) – Fort Sill honored a Soldier who died in Vietnam with a bridge dedication ceremony on April 22 in the Hall of Remembrance . Fort Sill leaders and Oklahoma State Senator John Montgomery spoke on the memory and service of Master Sgt . Michael Werdehoff , whose helicopter was shot down April 19 , 1968 . Werdehoff’s death occurred during a supply mission in South Vietnam . Werdehoff was a flight engineer aboard a CH - 54 alongside Arthur Lord aircraft commander , Charles Millard pilot , Arthur J . Lord co - pilot , and Philip Shafer crew chief . The aircraft was approaching the landing zone when enemy fire struck , killing all crew aboard . Due to the location of the enemy , search and rescue efforts were not able to approach the wreckage . BRIDGE DEDICATION The ceremony included Werdehoff’s widow , Elfriede , and their daughter Carol Maersch , as well as members of the Fort Sill community . Keith Powers , Survivor Outreach Services Program Manager , began the ceremony by sharing Mrs . Werdehoff’s stories about her late husband . “I’ll never forget what she said when she introduced herself , ” said Powers . “She said ‘I’m a Gold Star family member , but I want to introduce you to my husband , ’ and she held a photo up and said ‘this is my handsome young man . Isn’t he so handsome ’” Powers said he could see the love she had for her husband . Powers also shared a story about how Carol Maersch used to hug every Soldier at the airport when she was a child because they reminded her of her father . He noted the importance of the date of the bridge dedication ceremony — the anniversary of when Mrs . Werdehoff was notified that her husband’s helicopter went down . “This is a day where we get to honor a hero for his sacrifice that he made for this country . We can’t repay the debt that he made for this country , so thank you [Elfriede and Carrol] for your sacrifice that you made . ” Col . Michael J . Kimball , Fires Center of Excellence Chief of Staff , spoke of the importance of honoring fallen Soldiers , especially those who have been overlooked from the Vietnam War . “Our nation is very good about honoring and remembering our veterans , and this ceremony is one more great example of doing just that . However rarely do we ever discuss what it really meant to serve in the Vietnam War . Rarely do we discuss who these brave men were , the circumstances around their service , and what it meant for a young man to ship off and fight in that war , ” said Kimball . Kimball said Werdehoff was part of a generation that knew the risks of war from growing up in the time of World War II . “Michael and his generation proudly left their lives behind , put on a uniform , and departed for a hostile land in Southeast Asia . They loved their country , and loved the flag it represented , and left to do their part just like their fathers had . ” Before the unveiling of the sign , Oklahoma State Senator John Montgomery spoke of the importance of designating a bridge in the name of Werdehoff . Montgomery explained why he chose a bridge rather than a highway for the dedication . “A bridge symbolizes that at some future point we will be reunited with the person who has passed . ” Montgomery added that this ceremony was special to him due to both of his grand fathers having served in the Vietnam War . He said he wanted to give back to a Gold Star family with a small token of appreciation . The ceremony concluded with Elfriede placing Werdehoff’s photo in the Hall of Remembrance and unveiling the sign that will be placed on the bridge at Highway 49 , at the Medicine Park exit .
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