By Ashley Luthern
Gene McCullough, 71, remembers what it was like to put his life on hold.
The Poland man enlisted in the National Guard Reserves and served from 1962 to 1968.
“Everyone was on edge about deployment, and they didn’t want to buy a house or have any long-term commitments,” he said.
But McCullough said he’s lucky because he finished his service and was able to plan for the future. Now he wants to honor two Poland residents who were not as fortunate.
McCullough has proposed naming the Main Street bridge, which is next to the Poland Library, in honor of Sgt. Howard Bruce Carpenter II and Pfc. Edward Andrew “Skip” Horn, Jr., both of Poland and both killed in action in the late 1960s.
Village Mayor Tim Sicafuse said he and council support the project and have ordered commemorative signs for the bridge, which they hope will be installed before July 4.
“People from our area fought and died for our country, and it’s nice for their families and relatives and other people in the community to see them honored,” Sicafuse said.
It also wouldn’t be the first time the village has honored a veteran with a bridge naming.
In 2010, officials dedicated the bridge on U.S. Route 224 between state Route 616 and Riverside Drive as the Pfc. James H. Spencer USMC Memorial Bridge. Spencer was a 1966 Poland Seminary High School graduate who enlisted in the Marines and was killed in action July 14, 1967, at age 20.
Carpenter was born Feb. 23, 1944, in New Castle, and his family later moved to Poland. He died March 5, 1967, while serving in Laos for the Army’s special forces Delta Project and his body never was recovered. Carpenter was awarded the Silver Star posthumously.
His father, Thomas Bruce Carpenter, donated about $10,000 to the construction of the Howard Bruce Carpenter Memorial Chapel in Riverside Cemetery in the 1970s.
Horn was born Jan. 12, 1949, and died May 1, 1969, when he was killed in action serving in the Marine Corps. He and his family moved to Poland when Horn was 18.
He was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star with a valor device for providing covering fire that enabled 15 platoon members to fight their way back to the company. The bodies of nine platoon members, including Horn, who died were recovered the next day.
McCullough said he didn’t know either man very well, but he believes Poland should honor its fallen heroes.
“When I saw Peterson Park honoring Polish Revolutionary war heros, I said there should be something for others,” he said. “Those who served the country, they gave their sacrifices. There are educations not completed, the families not started, because they lost their lives.”