State Senate passes bill to honor local hero

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Senate Passes Bill Renaming Erie Bridge for Local Hero

The Senate today (June 12) approved a bill introduced by Senator Dan Laughlin renaming a bridge in honor of an Erie native on the 53rd anniversary of his heroic actions in the Vietnam War. 

Senate Bill 593 designates a bridge on Interstate 79 northbound over West 16th Street in Erie as the Thomas J. Kennedy, Jr., Memorial Bridge.

Kennedy was a Captain in the U.S. Marine Corps, serving as the Senior Battalion Advisor to the Fifth Battalion, Vietnamese Marine Brigade, in the hostile area of Phu An, Quang Ngai Province, Vietnam, in 1966.

On June 12 of that year, Captain Kennedy was with the Fifth Battalion Command Post when the lead elements were pinned down by heavy enemy fire and the Command Post was destroyed by enemy mortar and rifle fire, killing the BattalionCommander, the Battalion Surgeon, key staff officers and numerous soldiers.

Although suffering multiple shrapnel wounds, Captain Kennedy located a radio and, with his last breath, reported the situation, allowing the battalion to set up a defensive perimeter and repulse repeated enemy attacks.

Despite his mortal wounds, Captain Kennedy prevented enemy forces from overrunning the remaining battalion unitsand valiantly gave his life protecting the lives of his fellow Marines.

“I am pleased that my colleagues approved this bill to rename this bridge in recognition of Captain Kennedy’s honorable service to our nation,” Senator Laughlin said. “This bridge should serve as a lasting reminder of the dedication and fidelity of this local hero.”

Senator Laughlin was joined in the Senate by his wife, Peggy, and her cousin Tim Considine and his wife Denise. This was a special occasion for Tim and Peggy as Senate Bill 593 honors their uncle.

The bill now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration.

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