Recently, Governor Pete Ricketts signed the proclamation officially naming Highway 20 through Nebraska the “Nebraska Medal of Honor Highway.” The signing took place during the American Legion Family Legislative Day at the Capital, with over 107 veterans and veteran advocates in attendance.
Highway 20 is a national highway that stretches 3,365 miles from Newport, Ore. to Boston, Mass., and passes through twelve states. Nebraska is the fifth state to adopt the renaming of the stretch of highway to the Medal of Honor name, which was started by Legion members in Oregon.
Nebraska American Legion members Gene Twiford, Daryl Harrison, and Ken Hanel worked to apply to the Nebraska Highway Commission for the renaming and arranged to have advocates in the room for the day of the renaming hearing. Following the Commission’s vote of approval, Ricketts signed the document officially renaming the highway.
Twiford, Harrison and Hanel created the Nebraska Medal of Honor Foundation and have begun fund raising for the signs recognizing the name of the highway and for any future signs that may be needed. The foundation also has planned to walk the 432 miles of Highway 20 from the Wyoming line near Harrison to Veterans Freedom Park in South Sioux City. The walk will take place May 12-24. To participate, contact Department American Legion Headquarters, 402-464-6338. The National Commander of The American Legion, Bill Oxford, will be in attendance at Veterans Freedom Park for the end of the walk.
Nebraska has 73 residents who have been awarded the Medal of Honor. These residents served in the Civil War, the Indian Wars, the Spanish-American War, the Philippine Conflict, World War I, World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, and the Somalia campaign.
Private First Class Ronald Coker, who graduated from Alliance High School in 1965, was awarded the Medal of Honor for his heroism in Vietnam. He was killed in action on March 24, 1969. Other medals and decorations he received include the Purple Heart, the National Defense Service Medal and the Vietnam Service Medal with one bronze star.
To receive the Medal of Honor, a member of the U.S. Armed Forces must act above and beyond the call of duty during combat at the risk of one’s life against and enemy of United States.