Pouring rain doesn’t dampen spirit on highway rededicated to POWs/MIAs
Gerald Rettela, lower right, president of the Korean War Veterans Association, presents a recognition medal to state Sen. Paull Shin, D-Edmonds, a Korean-American who was adopted by an American serviceman during the Korean War, during a ceremony to dedicate state Highway 117, also known as Tumwater Truck Route, as the POW/MIA Memorial Highway. In the background are, left to right, Clallam County Commissioner Mike Doherty, Port Angeles Mayor Cherie Kidd and Shawn O’Neill, representing State Sen. Jim Hargrove, D-Hoquiam. -- Photo by Arwyn Rice/Peninsula Daily News
Arwyn Rice/Peninsula Daily News
Led by a color guard from the Port Angeles Coast Guard base, a procession travels the entire Tumwater Truck Route length in pouring rain following the highway's rededication in recognition of POWs/MIAs.
By Arwyn Rice
Peninsula Daily News
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About 50 people, braving the autumn downpour, assembled on Tumwater Truck Route, state Highway 117, to dedicate the throughway to service members who were captured or who never returned from war.
“This is just an extension of our hearts, our love and our respect for the prisoners of war and those missing in action. They are not forgotten. We will always remember. This highway is just an outward symbol,” said Port Angeles Mayor Cherie Kidd.
The 1.4-mile Tumwater Truck Route connects U.S. Highway 101 with Marine Drive, and was closed for about two hours during the ceremony, a march down the road and a barbecue for participants.
More than 0.15 of an inch of rain fell during the ceremony and march, according to the National Weather Service reporting station at William R. Fairchild International Airport about 1.5 miles west.
But that didn’t dampen patriotic spirits.
Gerald Rettela, president of the Korean War Veterans Association, welcomed veterans and others in the audience to remember those who never returned from Korea.
Rettela read the Prisoner’s Psalm, Psalm 91, and Terry Roth, vice president of the Clallam County Veterans Association, read the Korean War POW’s Prayer.
State Sen. Paull Shin, D-Edmonds, a Korean by birth, also spoke at the ceremony.
Rettela presented him with a medal for his contributions.
“He has introduced so many pieces of legislation pertaining to the Korean War veterans,” Rettela said.
Shin was adopted by an American GI during the Korean War and brought to the United States.
State Sen. Jim Hargrove, D-Hoquiam, sponsored the bill to rename the highway stretch but was unable to attend Sunday’s ceremony.
Hargrove represents the 24th Legislative District, which covers Clallam and Jefferson counties and part of Grays Harbor County.
Shawn O’Neill, a member of Hargrove’s Olympia office, spoke at the dedication ceremony.
“There were 8,000 POWs in the Korean War, many of whom never made it home. Those that travel on state Route 117 from today forward will be reminded of the sacrifice others have made for their freedom,” O’Neill read from Hargrove’s letter.
When the ceremony was over, more than 30 marched from the south end of Tumwater Truck Route to the north end in the rain, then finished with a barbecue.
A U.S. Coast Guard color guard from Coast Guard Air Station/Sector Field Office Port Angeles led the procession through the rain, while many veterans and supporters followed in cars and trucks.
A ceremony in memory of prisoners of war and those missing in action was held Sunday evening at the Clallam County Veterans Center, 302 S. Francis St.
Rettela said Highway 117 is the only Washington state highway designated in memory of POWs and MIAs.
The signs provided by the veterans cost between $500 and $700, Rettela said, adding that the money came from the Korean War Veterans Association treasury.
Reporter Arwyn Rice can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5070, or at email@example.com.
Last modified: September 22. 2013 6:11PM