Senate Minority Leader Stephen Baldwin joined with family, friends and descendants of United States Army Private Garland Lee Loudermilk last weekend to celebrate the re-christening of a Clintonville bridge in the name of the fallen Greenbrier County hero.
“We owe so much to our military and to their families,” said Sen. Baldwin, who began the celebration by leading those in attendance in prayer. “It’s wonderful how the community came together here this morning to support and encourage the Loudermilk family on such a special occasion. It is so important that we all remember those who have sacrificed for the greatest of loves.”
Previously known as the “Williamsburg Road Bridge,” Baldwin has been committed to re-dedicating the bridge in Loudermilk’s name since the 2018 Legislative Session. On Mar. 4 of this year, Senate Concurrent Resolution 28 was finally adopted, officially renaming the area of County Route 9, which crosses I-64, as the “U.S. Army PVT Garland Lee Loudermilk Memorial Bridge.” Senator Jack David Woodrum was the lead sponsor of the resolution.
“Y’all wouldn’t believe this,” Baldwin told those gathered at the Clintonville Community Building. “I think Jack (Sen. Woodrum) will attest to it – getting bridges through is sometimes one of the hardest things to do in Charleston. But Jack got it through this year.”
Woodrum, who along with 11 co-sponsors reintroduced the resolution on Feb. 1, said, “As Senator Baldwin was saying, it’s not always the easiest thing to do to get a bridge resolution through. You’ve been, many years, waiting for this day to come.”
As stated in the resolution: “Whereas, Garland Lee Loudermilk was born on July 16, 1923, in Clintonville, W.Va., to Johnny and Bertha Loudermilk. Garland Lee Loudermilk enlisted on Jan. 21, 1944, and was a member of the United States Army’s 89th Cavalry Recon Squadron, 9th Armored Division at the Rhine River in Germany during World War II. PVT Garland Lee Loudermilk was married to Letha M. Loudermilk.”
“Sadly, PVT Garland Lee Loudermilk was killed in action on Mar. 8, 1945, during the Battle of the Bulge, fighting to protect the country he loved.”
Pastor Dave Beavers of the Rhema Christian Center, who was asked by the Loudermilk family to speak during the celebration, said, “When I read his story, I felt like I knew this man even though he died in 1945.”
“He’s one of us, and that’s why we can relate,” Pastor Beavers continued. “We all have sons and daughters and brothers and fathers – members of our family. And probably some type of war has affected all of our families at some time or another. And sometimes we get caught up in the ‘war part’ and we forget the ‘human part’ of the soldiers who gave their lives to give us this opportunity to be gathered here today.”
After the ceremony, the community joined with the Loudermilk family for an afternoon of celebration and fellowship.
“This has been a long time coming,” Sen. Baldwin concluded. “It’s a wonderful tribute to a young man who fought with valor, who was awarded – significantly – for his bravery in battle, and paid the ultimate price. We’re gathered together today to remember and to give thanks. Now every time somebody passes this bridge on the interstate, whether they’re from West Virginia or traveling from another part of the country, or another part of the world, they’ll see his name.”