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The original item was published from 5/5/2023 12:58:00 PM to 5/5/2023 4:14:33 PM.

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Posted on: May 4, 2023

[ARCHIVED] Bridge Rededicated for Upper Bucks Soldier Killed in Vietnam War

A photo of a smiling man

Bucks County Bridge #183 in Upper Bucks has reopened as the 2nd Lt. William James Erkes Jr., U.S. Army Memorial Bridge. 

Erkes, of Upper Black Eddy, was killed in action Jan. 7, 1970, while serving in the Vietnam War. He was 20 years old.  

“When Bucks County residents like 2nd Lt. Erkes went overseas to fight for our country, they went not knowing whether they would ever see home again,” said Commissioner Chair Bob Harvie. “Here in the communities where these brave soldiers lived, we are proud to be keeping their memory alive one bridge at a time.” 

Several people smiling

PHOTO: The Bucks County-owned bridge over Tohickon Creek in Upper Bucks reopened Thursday, and was rededicated as the 2nd Lt. William James Erkes Jr., U.S. Army Memorial Bridge with a brief ceremony attended by county and township officials, as well as Erkes' surviving siblings. Pictured above, from left to right, Jetta Erkes Lapore, Tom Erkes, Ed Preston, county Commissioner Vice Chair Diane Ellis-Marseglia, county Veterans Affairs Director Matthew Allen, Commissioner Gene DiGirolamo, Commissioner Chair Bob Harvie, Tinicum Township Manager Teri Lewis and Gary Erkes, who is holding a photograph of his late bother.

The county-owned bridge dedicated Thursday morning in his honor crosses Tohickon Creek along Farm School Road at the border of Bedminster and Tinicum townships. The bridge had previously been closed for repairs. 

Erkes was in Vietnam for just more than a month before his death. The young second lieutenant was serving as a platoon leader when he was killed during fighting the country’s Quang Tin Province. 

“2nd Lt. William “Jimmy” Erkes at such a young age was able to make such a big impact on those around him and now it is our turn to honor his memory,” said Bucks County Veterans Affairs Director Matthew Allen. “It is an honor to dedicate these bridges to the Bucks County residents who lost their lives serving in the Vietnam war and to keep their legacy alive.”

A man wearing a denim jacket that has been modified with patches expressing support for veterans.

PHOTO: Members of the Warriors' Watch Riders stand at attention during Thursday's ceremony reopening and rededicating a bridge in Upper Bucks County for U.S. Army 2nd Lt. William James Erkes Jr., who was killed in action during the Vietnam War.

During his junior and senior years at Palisades High School, Erkes served as president of student council. After graduation, he attended Rutgers  University on an Army ROTC scholarship. 

The bridge named for Erkes is the third in Bucks County to be dedicated as part of a program meant to honor those Bucks County residents who perished while serving in the Vietnam War. 

People standing on a bridge.

PHOTO: Several people stand atop the newly reopened 2nd Lt. William James Erkes Jr., U.S. Army Memorial Bridge Thursday after a ceremony during which the Bucks County-owned bridge was dedicated in honor of the late Upper Black Eddy man, who was killed in the Vietnam War.

The bridge dedication project is administered in partnership with Bucks County veterans’ advocate Ed Preston and the Pennsylvania Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund (PAVVMF). 

Jetta Erkes Lapore cuts the ribbon to the newly dedicated bridge to her late brother, Lt. Erkes

PHOTO: Jetta Erkes Lapore cuts the ribbon to the newly dedicated bridge to her late brother, Lt. William James Erkes Jr., alongside brother, Gary Erkes, Tom Erkes as well as Commissioners Bob Harvie, Gene DiGirolamo, Diane Ellis-Marselgia, county Veterans Affairs Director, Matt Allen, and Tinicum Township Manager Teri Lewis.The group celebrates the bridge dedication ceremony and ribbon cutting. PHOTO: The group celebrates the bridge dedication ceremony and ribbon cutting. Gary Erkes holds up a picture of his late brother, 2nd Lt. William James Erkes Jr. PHOTO: Gary Erkes holds up a picture of his late brother, 2nd Lt. William James Erkes Jr. while talking to the crowd at the bridge dedication ceremony.Commissioner Bob Harvie talks to the crowd about the history of the Vietnam War PHOTO: Commissioner Bob Harvie talks to the crowd about the history of the Vietnam War and how Lt. William James Erkes Jr. was a hero. Commissioner Gene DiGirolamo address the crowd at a bridge dedication ceremony PHOTO: Commissioner Gene DiGirolamo address the crowd at a bridge dedication ceremony for fallen Vietnam War veteran Lt. William James Erkes Jr. : Commissioner Diane Ellis-Marseglia speaks to the Erkes family and the supportive crowd PHOTO: Commissioner Diane Ellis-Marseglia speaks to the Erkes family and the supportive crowd at the bridge dedication ceremony.Bucks County Veterans Affairs Director Matt Allen tells a story from a friend of the late Lt. ErkesPHOTO: Bucks County Veterans Affairs Director Matt Allen tells a story from a friend of the late Lt. William James Erkes Jr. who could not attend the bridge ceremony.Vietnam War veterans hold flags during the bridge dedication ceremony PHOTO: Vietnam War veterans hold flags during the bridge dedication ceremony where Ed Preston, at the podium, speaks to the crowd. The American Legion Wallace Willard Keller PA Post 242 Color Guard of Quakertown PHOTO: The American Legion Wallace Willard Keller PA Post 242 Color Guard of Quakertown stands at attention during the ceremony.Tom Erkes alongside Gary Erkes and Jetta Erkes Lapore unveils the memorial bridge sign PHOTO: Tom Erkes alongside Gary Erkes and Jetta Erkes Lapore unveils the memorial bridge sign for their late brother, Lt. William James Erkes.  The Erkes family, local officials and spectators walk the newly dedicated memorial bridgePHOTO: The Erkes family, local officials and spectators walk the newly dedicated 2nd Lt. William James Erkes Jr, US Army Memorial Bridge. The county-owned bridge that crosses Tohickon Creek along Farm School Road

PHOTO: The county-owned bridge that crosses Tohickon Creek along Farm School Road bears a new name, 2nd Lt. William James Erkes Jr, US Army Memorial Bridge. 

Media Contact: James O’Malley, 215-348-6414, jtomalley@buckscounty.org 

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