On Oct. 19 of 2012, I had the great honor of being a part of the process to name a bridge on Interstate 69 after Korean War hero Lt. Col. Don C. Faith Jr. of Washington, Ind. The Daviess County United States Army lieutenant colonel lost his life during battle while courageously leading his men to safety, but his body was unfortunately never recovered. He was decorated with the Congressional Medal of Honor for his sacrifice and valor.
At the dedication ceremony, Bobbie Broyles, the daughter of Lt. Col. Faith, shared some very exciting news. A few days prior to the ceremony, the Department of Defense had called her to let her know that they had positively matched DNA records with remains they had discovered in Korea, and her father’s remains would be brought home to be buried in the Arlington National Cemetery. After 62 years of waiting, the family could finally come to peace knowing their father had made it home.
The family members the lieutenant colonel were very grateful for the recognition given to these war heroes and very touched that their ancestors were held in such high esteem. At the end of the ceremony, Mrs. Broyles told me that out of her gratitude for the efforts that were made on behalf of her father; she would notify me when he was being buried at Arlington National Cemetery and would extend an invitation for me to attend. That formal invitation came at the end of March, and with permission from House leadership to miss a day of legislative session, I was able to attend.
On April 17, Lt. Col. Don C Faith was given the final honor he deserved with an amazing ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery. The program was complete with a memorial service led by the Episcopal Bishop of Arlington at the Ft. Myers Chapel, a horse-drawn hearse and an Army escort platoon. The Army’s 3rd Infantry Regiment acted as poll bearers, and the Army band that played an incredibly synchronized 21-gun salute and taps.
Over 100 people were in attendance, including dozens of U.S. Army generals and colonels, Maj. Gen. Michael S. Linnington who escorted Mrs. Broyles, an officer from the South Korean Military, all of Lt. Col. Faith’s surviving family members, friends and dozens of national media outlets.
I was very moved by the ceremony. It was a fitting tribute by the Army to a man who gave his life in service to our country. Lt. Col. Faith saved the lives of many of the men in his unit in Korea, a few of which were able to attend the ceremony. They are all expressed that if it were not for the lieutenant colonel’s actions, none of them would have survived.
Lt. Col. Faith is real hero and an American patriot. He’s a Hoosier we can all be proud of. He fought for the sovereignty of a foreign nation knowing the bigger price these people who have to pay had he not been there to protect their freedoms and right to democracy. His example has been lived out and emulated again and again by men and women bravely serving our country for the betterment of mankind. It is the very strength of our country to be more for those in need.
After 62 years, April 17, 2013, gave family and friends of Lt. Col. Faith the opportunity to have closure in the his passing. The celebration of his life and the pride felt by all who attended and have been touched by his accomplishments was uplifting. It was a service fitting of one our greatest heroes. I am grateful and honored to have been a part of this unique, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and it will serve as a memory of a true act of valor that I will never forget.