Mineral Wells bridge named for Civil War Medal of Honor recipient

MINERAL WELLS – A bridge over Interstate 77 was named Tuesday in honor of a Civil War Medal of Honor recipient from Parkersburg.

More than 50 people gathered at the overpass bridge, which is a part of W.Va. 14, for the ceremony to commemorate the service of Sgt. Richard Bowry, who received the medal for action during a battle in March 1865 at Charlottesville, Va., where he captured a Confederate flag.

Those in attendence included members of the Wood County Marine Corps League Detachment 1087, Vienna Mayor Randy Rapp, and Republican state delegates Anna Border, John Ellem and Tom Azinger. Members of Carlin’s Battery D were present and did a canon salute.

Hank Bowry, Bowry’s great-great-grandson of Mineral Wells, initiated the process to rename the bridge when he contacted Azinger, who later introduced a resolution, House Concurrent Resolution 125, in the House of Delegates this session, requesting the Division of Highways dedicate the bridge in Sgt. Bowry’s honor and name it the Army Sergeant Richard Bowry Memorial Bridge.

Keynote speaker Hershel “Woody” Williams, a Medal of Honor recipient during World War II from West Virginia, told those gathered he was honored to join in a celebration to celebrate an American hero and a West Virginia patriot.

”This is a time of joy and remembrance,” Williams said. ”For the thousands of people who will travel over this bridge for years to come, the name of Richard Bowry will say to them, ‘I served America in a time of great turmoil. It also said I served her with honor.”’

At that time, a unit flag was one of the most prized possessions as it was the identity of the unit that flew it, Williams said. Losing it was considered a disgrace and demoralizing to the people who served under that flag, he said.

Bowry is among the first West Virginians to receive the Medal of Honor.

Hank Bowry said he was glad the rains stopped and he was happy so many people turned out for the ceremony and the reception at the Comfort Suites in Mineral Wells.

”Everything went fantastic,” he said. ”It is all a part of the great state of West Virginia to see people come out like this.”

Under state regulations, the only things that have to be included on these signs are rank, branch of service, name and “Memorial Bridge.”

Williams said there are a lot of bridges around the state that have been named in honor of someone, but their story is not presented to put it in its proper context or whether that person was killed in the line of duty.

”It doesn’t say if the veteran died in combat or why their name is placed on a bridge or a highway,” he said. ”There needs to be a standard with all signs with proper identification as to why that person is being honored.”

Williams said the stories need to be included so people know why something was named after a person. Otherwise, it is just a name without any context.

”For years efforts were made to get the Legislature to set a standard for signs so everyone will be honored in the same way,” he said. ”Everybody deserves that same honor.”

During the Battle of Charlottesville, in the action at Waynesboro, Va., on March 8, 1865, Bowry, despite suffering a severe gunshot wound to his leg with the bullet having lodged in his boot, “courageously continued his pursuit of the enemy and eventually captured a Battle Flag of the enemy,” the House resolution said.

The official name of the bridge is “U.S. Army Sergeant Richard Bowry Memorial Bridge.”

”There is lots more that needs to be done,” Williams said. ”Mr. Bowry risked his life to do the thing his citation said he did.

”There needs to be more.”