PARKERSBURG - Close to a 100 people turned out for the bridge dedication to Nick Null Friday morning.
The ceremony, flanked by about two dozen Patriot Guard riders, was attended by family, friends, supporters, well-wishers and politicians as the Nicholas Heath Null Memorial Bridge was dedicated.
"It's a reminder of the ultimate sacrifice," said Greg Varndell, pastor of the Fairlawn Baptist Church.
Photo by Jody Murphy
A member of the Patriot Guard holds an American flag as state officials unveil a sign designating the Nicholas Heath Null Memorial Bridge Friday morning. Close to 100 people turned out for the 20-minute ceremony.
Null's wife, Tanya, was thankful for the dedication.
"Thank you to everyone for making such a memorial for such an amazing man," she said. "My kids will able to see this and know his sacrifice has not gone (unnoticed)."
Null was an EOD/Naval Special Warfare Development Group member whose helicopter was shot down by Taliban soldiers with a rocket-propelled grenade in August 2011. Null was killed along with 38 other military personnel, including 22 SEALS from SEAL Team 6 and one service dog, according to military reports.
Through his service, Null was awarded two Bronze Star Medals, one with Valor; two Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medals with Valor; three Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals, one with Valor; the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal; the Afghanistan Campaign Medal; two Iraq Campaign Medals; the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal; the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal; four Sea Service Deployment Ribbons; the Rifle Marksmanship Medal; the Pistol Marksmanship Medal; the Bronze Star Medal with Valor; and the Purple Heart.
During the 2013 regular legislative session, the West Virginia House of Delegates adopted a resolution to rename the DuPont Road Bridge on W.Va 68 that spans U.S. 50 in honor of Null. Local Delegates Dan Poling, D-Wood; John Ellem, R-Wood; Tom Azinger, R-Wood, and Anna Border, R-Wood, along with Sen. David Nohe, R-Wood, were on hand for the ceremony. Members of the Wood County Sheriff's Department, including Sheriff Ken Merritt, and Parkersburg City Council were also present.
Null's wife and his three children, Hunter, Brett and Chase, attended the ceremony, along with many of Null's relatives. Null's mother, Tracy Kendall Litman, and stepfather, Alan Litman, left before the start of the ceremony. Null's mother standing along with the Patriot Guard, collapsed onto the pavement in tears. She was helped into Litman's truck and the pair left minutes before the opening prayer. Some of Null's other relatives, including his sister, Ashley Sanders, took chairs and placed them near the small seating section.
Alan Litman said it was nice Null's wife and children were present.
"It is sad how it happened," he said when contacted by phone after the ceremony, referring to the family tension. "We just can't be a family. It was a nice ceremony. ... We have been dealing with it for years."