(Juneau) - Veterans and local heroes from across Alaska will be honored by renaming bridges and airports following the Legislature's passage today of facilities naming legislation.
This bill is meant to honor those who served and made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.
~ Rep. Bill Thomas
House Bill 246, sponsored by House Finance Co-chair Bill Thomas, honors 15 deceased U.S. Armed Servicemen and an Eyak elder from Southeast Alaska with bridges in their names, renames three Interior Alaska airports, and the state-owned Nome Bypass Road.
"Alaskans have a strong sense of duty; duty to their country and to their people. This bill is meant to honor those who served and made the ultimate sacrifice for their country," Thomas, R-Haines, said.
The servicemen are identified below by conflict:
World War I
William M. Jones
John W. Jones
World War II
Patrick B. Burchett
Norman D. Osbourne
Leonard F. Olson
David Henry Elisovsky
David Allen Lape
Warren Allen Paulsen
Michael Dean Banta
Eyak elder Marie Smith Jones, the last known fluent speaker of the Eyak language, is also honored with a bridge named in her honor. Thomas said the City of Cordova wants to recognize her for her tireless efforts to catalogue and preserve the dying Eyak language.
Three rural airports would be renamed under the bill; two of them were folded in from separate bills proposed by Rep. Alan Dick, R-Stony River.
The Koyukuk airport, in Western Alaska northwest of Galena on the Yukon River, would be renamed the Koyukuk Station Veterans' Airport at the request of the community, in honor of the native vets from the area who've served their country. The Minto airport, northwest of Fairbanks, would be officially renamed the Al Wright Airport, in honor of the long-time rural aviator and founder of Wright's Air Service. The Klawock Airport, in Southeast Alaska northwest of Ketchikan, would be renamed the Frank Peratrovich Airport, after the husband of the late Elizabeth Peratrovich and a member of the Alaska Statehood Committee from 1949-1959.
"'What's in a name?' people always say. Well, in this case, a lot. Alaska Natives have served their country for decades, and naming the Koyukuk Station Airport in their honor is important. They're role models in their community, and this will serve as a living reminder to all those who travel through it of the pride people have in those who serve and in the sacrifice they make," Dick said.
HB 246 passed both the Alaska House and Senate unanimously and will be transmitted to the governor for his signature. The bill takes effect 90 days after it is signed.