Centralia resident Regina Clark, a Navy Seabee killed in action in Iraq 14 years ago, will finally have a permanent memorial to her sacrifice in her hometown.
At noon on Saturday, the state Route 507 Skookumchuck River bridge just north of Centralia will be officially renamed in Clark’s honor.
The event will take place at Schaeffer County Park, said Joseph Amell, an organizer of the event and the instigator behind the renaming of the bridge.
“He needs the credit for getting it going,” said county Commissioner Edna Fund.
Amell told The Chronicle this week that he had no idea how much work it would take to get the bridge renamed for Clark, and said he was relieved the project had finally been successful.
The Washington State Transportation Commission unanimously voted in July to rename the bridge in honor of Clark, a Centralia native who was killed in action in Iraq in 2005.
The effort to get the bridge renamed was introduced in the Legislature by by Rep Ed. Orcutt, R-Kalama, and area resident Joseph Amell.
“The fact that she was a single mom and she was so willing to go and defend the freedoms of the United States, that’s a special thing for anyone to do,” Orcutt told The Chronicle in July. “I will be very pleased to see that sign go up. I would like to be there for it. It’s important that we remember our military personnel.”
Clark was an employee of Fuller’s Shop’n Kart, and became the first area casualty of Operation Iraqi Freedom when she was killed by a roadside bomb.
The event is scheduled to start at noon with an introduction from Amell and an opening prayer by Lt. Ryan Smith of the U.S. Navy. The dedication is expected to include speeches from two retired Navy admirals, Commissioner Fund, Rep. Orcutt, Washington State Transportation Commissioner Joe Tortorelli and Michael Bloundt, retired from the 30th Naval Construction Regiment.
The event will also include motorcycle groups including the Patriot Riders and ABATE of Lewis County and displays of historic military equipment.
“It’s really going to be something I believe your children’s children are going to talk about every time they go across the bridge and see the park,” Amell said.
The dedication includes time for friends and community members to share stories about Clark, and is set to conclude with another prayer after the formal presentation of the “Petty Officer 1st Class Regina R. Clark Memorial Bridge” sign.
“A lot of people are showing up and they want to speak and we’re going to make time for them,” Amell said. “It’s important for me that everyone has the time to speak.”