Bridge dedicated in honor of fallen vet

The family and friends of the late Charles Leonard will now have a tangible way to celebrate the life and sacrifices made by the young Vietnam War soldier who died in service to his country.

Those who cross the newly named SP4 Charles Murphy Leonard Vietnam Veteran Memorial Bridge may take a moment to reflect on the willingness of all the young men and women who gave everything to secure the continuation of America, the free.

An estimated 150 to 200 individuals came out on Nov. 9 to participate in the naming of the bridge that crosses Little Creek along Crain Hill Road. Among the crowd were Leonard’s sisters Audrey Barnard, Sally Fletcher and Dorothy Bussell. A brother, Carson Leonard, was not able to be present during the dedication ceremony.

Born in Harrogate on Feb. 6 of 1945, the late Charles Leonard grew up in the Little Creek/Rosum Town community. He attended Forge Ridge Schools prior to being drafted into the U.S. Army.

Leonard began his tour of duty on Aug. 14 of 1967 and was part of the 4th Infantry Division 1st Squadron, 10th Calvary Troop. He made the rank of Specialist 4, with a specialty in light weapons infantry.

Leonard died on Aug. 28, 1968 – just over a year later – in the line of duty. He earned the Bronze Star, the Purple Heart and the Combat Infantryman Badge. The soldier also earned the National Defense Service Medal, the Vietnam Campaign and Service Medals and the Distinguished Unit Citation. Leonard was also awarded the Vietnam Gallantry Cross Unit Citation and the Good Conduct Medal.

His name can be found at panel 6w, line 50 of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. Those visiting the East Tennessee Veterans Memorial in Knoxville can find his name etched into the middle panel of Pillow XXII.

Leonard was the son of Laura Bell and Shelby Leonard.

Circuit court judge John McAfee was the keynote speaker during the dedication ceremony. State representative Jerry Sexton and Claiborne county mayor Joe Brooks read the official Proclamation designating the former county bridge #30 in honor of Leonard.

Music was provided by Journey Scott, who sang “Thank a Soldier,” and violinist Rachel Schott.

Claiborne commissioner Mitchell Cosby, who sponsored the resolution and personally paid for the two bridge signs, said he would like to express his great appreciation for the assistance of the Claiborne Highway Department and the Claiborne County Sheriff’s Office.