Speers Ferry Bridge to be Dedicated on Saturday
From staff reports
A Korean War hero who was returned to his native county more than two years ago will be honored this Saturday during a special bridge renaming ceremony.
The remains of Master Sgt. Roy E. Head, formerly of the Grit Hill community, were laid to rest June 5, 2010 in the Head-Benton Cemetery with full military honors.
On Saturday, members of the American Legion Post No. 265 of Gate City pay tribute to their fallen comrade when the bridge on Highway 23 near Speers Ferry at the Clinch River is renamed to honor Master Sgt. Head.
The ceremony begins at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 22 in the parking lot of the former K.P. White’s store.
Head was an experienced soldier, who had previously served his country during World War II, when he rejoined the military shortly before the Korean Conflict.
After graduating from Rye Cove High School, he originally enlisted in the United States Navy on Dec. 4, 1942. He served his country in World War II on the USS Pensacola (the Grey Ghost of the Pacific) and earned the rank of Fire Controlman 3rd Class.
He was honorably discharged on Dec. 16, 1945 when his tour of duty ended and saw action in seven major battles including Gilbert Island Operation, Marshall Island Operation, Battle for Leyte Gulf, Iwo Jima Operation and Okinawa Operation.
After his re-enlistment, Head served in the 49th Field Artillery Battalion, 7th Infantry Division and was stationed at Fort Riley, Kansas. He again answered the call of his country and was shipped to Korea in 1950.
According to the Korean War Project Remembrance website, Head was captured in an ambush by the Chinese Communist Army on Feb. 11, 1951. He and other POWs were marched north to Suan Bean Prison Camp, where he died nearly two months later.
The remains of Head, who died according to Department of Defense officials of malnutrition on April 30, 1951 while incarcerated as a prisoner in the North Korean Prison Camp, were returned to the United States in 1993 and positively identified by DNA evidence in 2009.
According to the Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office, Head was assigned to Headquarters Company, 49th Field Artillery Battalion. After the 1953 armistice, it was learned from surviving POWs that he had been captured in February 1951, marched north to a POW camp in Suan County, North Korea and died of malnutrition a few months later.
For more information about Saturday’s event, contact Post 265 Chaplain Marshall Tipton at 386-4215 or (423) 418-3428.