Ill. bridge named for fallen Vietnam hero

American Flag Shutterstock 52044700The bridge on West Irving Park Road that crosses the Des Plaines River in Norridge, Ill., is now named the Corporal Donald W. Bollman Bridge, in memory of a Norridge resident who received the Bronze Star for valor, but lost his life fighting in the Vietnam War in 1967, the Chicago Tribune reports.

In order to make this happen, Bollman’s sister, Carol Ann Bollman-Badalamenti, along with other family members and friends of the family, worked with Bridges For the Fallen, an organization that works to get bridges named for fallen soldiers.

The bridge dedication was held Sept. 12. State Sen. John Mulroe (D-10th), who introduced Senate Joint Resolution 39 to honor the soldier’s memory, was present for the dedication, as was State Rep. Michael McAuliffe (R-20th), who carried the resolution through the House. In his remarks, Mulroe said the late recognition could not compensate the family for the years of pain and suffering, but he hoped “it will be something that will recognize the sacrifice.”

Bollman enlisted in the United States Marine Corps in 1965, and was one of three brothers serving in Vietnam at the same time. He died March 1, 1967, according to a military service page created by his sister. She told the news agency that her brother traveled up and down Irving Park Road while growing up in Norridge, and “now to see his name there, I’m very honored.”

“I didn’t know Donald personally, and I didn’t know his family personally,” Mulroe told reporters after the ceremony. “But I have four brothers, I have four children, and I cannot imagine the pain and suffering that this family has been enduring for 50 years.”

James Bollman, Donald’s youngest brother, said the area where the ceremony was held was an area he and Donald visited often. “We used to come to these woods and play, particularly this bridge,” he told reporters. “We used to walk here all the time. They dug a lake in the back. We used to go swimming there, we’d ride our bikes there, all summer long. We played baseball here. We used to fish in the Des Plaines River. Who do you know that fishes in the Des Plaines River but us? So this couldn’t be a more fitting place.”

He added that Donald’s death had a devastating effect on the family. “Our mother passed away a few months later. She never got over it. It was just a rough time, and this is such great recognition,” he told reporters. “This is forever. We’ll be long gone, and that will still be there the same as the other memorials. Just great.”