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12th Street Bridge could get new name

December 22, 2010
BERLIN — The 12th Street Bridge may be renamed for a Berlin soldier who was killed in Vietnam.

Corporal Richard Demers was killed in action on Oct.16, 1967 in Quang Nam Province, Vietnam, when he was only 20 years old. He was the only marine from Berlin to be killed in action, although other Berlin soldiers from different military branches lost their lives in the line of duty.

His body was recovered and the military lists his death as "non-hostile, died of other causes." He had just rejoined his unit after being seriously wounded by a mine on Jul.19, 1967. Demers started his tour of Vietnam on Dec.29, 1966.

Now, in his hometown of Berlin, there is a proposal to rename the 12th Street Bridge after him. According to Dave Dubey, the commandant of the Marine Corps League in Berlin, which is also called the Corporal Richard Demers Detachment, his group put in the request for the bridge to be named after Demers. The request was put in shortly after their last meeting, approximately two weeks ago.

Dubey said that the detachment feels Corporal Demers is deserving of the honor. Dubey said that the idea came about when the 12th Street Bridge was closed earlier this year for repairs. Dubey said that was when the detachment realized just how often that bridge is used. "When we cross that bridge, we don't think of anything…maybe this will remind people of the cost of this country's freedom," he said.

Dubey said that he was personally pleased that the city council was going to be considering the proposal.

Richard Arthur Demers was born on Feb.27, 1947. He grew up in Berlin. His name appears on the Vietnam Memorial on panel 28 E, line 14.

Demers has family in the Berlin area. His mother was present when the Corporal Richard Demers detachment was formed, however, she has since passed on.

The detachment describes itself as "one of the best and most respected Veteran's Organizations in the North Country." Annually, the detachment provides scholarships to area highschool students. The amount varies per year, depending on the amount of money raised and the number of applicants.

The detachment raises money mainly through their road toll fundraiser, which can be held in May or June. That raises 80 percent of the money for the scholarship fund, according to Dubey.

To be a scholarship recipient, the applicant must have some connection to the Marine Corps, although they can apply the money toward any school, not just a military school. Last year, the Corporal Richard Demers Detachment gave out three $500 scholarships.

Martin Lord Osman
Varney Smith
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