POW-MIA Parkway: West Dover Connector receives a new name in ceremony

DOVER — Local veterans working tirelessly to honor and remember captured and unaccounted for comrades received a tremendous boost Monday morning.

An upcoming major traffic artery for a projected average of 19,350 daily trips through southern and western Dover by 2035 will be named “POW-MIA Parkway.”

Describing the upcoming 3.2-mile roadway as nearly in the shadows of Dover Air Force Base, Gov. Jack Markell lauded the importance of veterans’ contributions.

“This is our way of making sure people truly never forget,” he said.

Photos special to the Delaware State News/Gary Emeigh

The remarks came during a 35-minute ceremony revealing the formerly known West Dover Connector’s path for motorists, pedestrians and bicyclists traveling from U.S. 13 in south Dover to Del. 15 on the city’s western side near the Eden Hill Commercial Center.

The patriotic-themed gathering in chilly conditions opened with the DAFB Color Guard presenting the colors and 9-year-old Delaney Westhoff crisply leading the audience through a pledge of allegiance recitation with hands over hearts.

Citing her agency’s pride in building Delaware’s roads and bridges, Department of Transportation Secretary Jennifer Cohan looked to the future.

“In the coming years,” she said, “When countless thousands of motorists drive on the roads, everyone one of them will be reminded of those for whom we have not forgotten.”

State Rep. Bill Carson, D-Smyrna, championed the cause after being approached by state Vietnam Veterans of America Council President Paul Davis and Delaware Veterans Coalition President Dave Skocik.

“When we as veterans go to elected officials they have always responded,” Mr. Davis said.

“ … This road will pay tribute to POWs, those who never returned home. I can’t imagine being the father of a son or daughter, getting notification [of their missing in action status] and waiting for years to learn if they are alive or dead and having to agonize over that.”

Said Rep. Carson, “I know that for every veteran, when they drive by or on [the parkway] it will bring back memories of some time when they were in the military …”

Describing the naming as a “magnificent gesture” Delaware National Guard Adjutant General Maj. Gen. Frank Vavala said “this demonstrates we have truly not forgotten the sacrifices made by so many men and women who continue to secure the freedoms that are the hallmark of our democratic way of life.”

New 512th Airlift Wing Commander Col. Scott “Bull” Durham said the POW-MIA Parkway designation “speaks volumes to the character of the state,” connected to DAFB’s role in identifying “fallen warriors” and served a practical purpose as well in keeping traffic moving smoothly.

After years spent on the clogged roadways around Washington, D.C., and the hometown Charleston, South Carolina peninsula, Col. Durham marveled at the seeming absence of traffic jams in his new home state and access to just about anywhere in “15 minutes.” Delaware’s hospitable spirit of working together has quickly grown on the commander, evidenced by the newly named thoroughfare.

U.S. Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., spoke to the national importance of identifying the whereabouts of all missing servicemen, and how open dialogue and cooperation with Vietnam during the search for U.S. military members boosted diplomatic relations after the war.

Reach staff writer Craig Anderson at canderson@newszap.com

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