Bill to memorialize Korea veteran advances

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Times Herald Staff

A bill authored by state Rep. John Nygren memorializes an Oconto native who was killed in action during the Korean War.

Assembly Bill 699 designates the bridge on U.S. Highway 41 that spans the Oconto River in the city of Oconto to be named the Pfc. Valentine T. Warrichaiet Memorial Bridge, in honor of the soldier killed in action on July 9, 1953, while serving in the U.S. Army.

Warrichaiet was the only citizen of the city of Oconto to be killed in action during the Korean War.

The driving forces behind this proposal — Vernon Warrichaiet and Melvin Warrichaiet, brothers of Valentine T. Warrichaiet, and Clyde Bridger, a friend and classmate — traveled to Madison in December to testify in support of the measure.

Nygren noted that the bill has overwhelming community support. His office has received letters of support from the Oconto County Board, Oconto City Council, Oconto Kiwanis Club, Oconto Lions Club, Jones-Modrow-Young American Legion Post 74, AMVETS Post 63, Lester J Crane VFW Post, and Elks Lodge No. 887.

“I would like to offer my sincerest appreciation to Clyde Bridger, Vernon Warrichaiet, and Melvin Warrichaiet for taking the time out of their schedule to come down to Madison to speak to the memory of their brother, and friend,” Nygren said. “For the last couple years, they have been generating local support for this bill. Their dedication to preserving Valentine’s life and legacy is awe inspiring.”

The bill hits home for Nygren as the son of a Korean War Veteran, he said.

“While there is nothing we can do to repay the ultimate sacrifice Pfc. Valentine T. Warrichaiet made, we can do our best to honor his memory,” he said. “I am confident that for years to come, the PFC Valentine T. Warrichaiet Memorial Bridge will keep the spirit of Pfc. Valentine T. Warrichaiet alive. Valentine may have fought and died in the ‘Forgotten War’, but we will not forget about him.”

The bill must pass the two houses of the Legislature and be signed by the governor to become law. It cleared the Assembly Transportation Committee by a unanimous vote late last month.