Honoring the Fallen
A large crowd gathered in the Village of Bangor on Sunday afternoon for a street dedication in honor of two local soldiers, who gave the ultimate sacrifice.
Two streets located within the Shelly Miller Addition, which was named in honor of former Village Administrator Shelly Miller who recently passed away unexpectedly, were named in honor of Spec. 4 Thomas L. Anderson, U.S. Army and Spec. 4 John E. Leis, U.S. Army.
“It’s a special day for all of us as we dedicate our two new streets in honor of two young men who died for their country,” Village President Gary Althoff said.
A few years ago, when the addition was in the planning stage, the two streets were named on the preliminary plan as Street A and Street B. According to village ordinance, it is up to the Village Board to give the streets a name.
“We could have named them after a tree or some famous person or president,” Althoff said.
After reading an article which had suggested naming streets after local veterans, Althoff brought the idea to the Village Board, which unanimously supported the idea of naming the streets Leis Street and Anderson Street.
“It dawned on me that future visitors or residents wouldn’t know who we actually honored. That had to be changed,” Althoff explained. “At the last minute, I suggested adding their first names to the signs.”
Dick Barbour, the project developer, strongly supported the decision to name the streets after two local soldiers and insisted on paying for the street signs.
In addition to the street signs, which have been placed in the addition, Barbour also had a commemorative street sign made for each family.
“John Leis and Tom Anderson were patriots. For the families this is a wonderful recognition for their family members, but it is also a sad reminder for them of the day they received the news,” Althoff said. “For military veterans here today, it’s a lost brother in arms. For many others, it’s a lost classmate, friend or acquaintance.”
Thomas Leslie Anderson was born on April 10, 1949 to Elmer Sr. and Alice Anderson. He graduated from Bangor High School in 1968 and served during the Vietnam War, beginning his tour on July 6, 1969.
He served with the 25th Infantry Division, 65th Engineer Battalion, Headquarters Company with the rank of Specialist Four.
Anderson was killed in action on December 21, 1969 in South Vietnam, Hau Nghia Province. He was honored with the Purple Heart for his bravery and sacrifice and is honored on the Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial in Washington, D.C.
Anderson’s brother, Elmer Anderson, spoke through his emotions when he said, “This is a great honor for our family, having a street named after our brother and we accept that honor. He gave his life four our country and we miss him dearly.”
John Eugene Leis was born on Veterans Day, November 11, 1950 to Eugene and Luella Leis. He was also a graduate of Bangor High School with the Class of 1968 and began his tour during the Vietnam War on July 27, 1970 as an Armor Crewman.
He served with the 5th Infantry Division, 1st Battalion, 77th Armor, A Company with the rank of Specialist Four.
On June 20, 1971, Leis was killed in action in South Vietnam, Quang Tri Province just a few weeks before he was scheduled to come home.
He was also awarded the Purple Heart for his bravery and sacrifice and he has been honored on the Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial in Washington, D.C. as well.
Leo Leis, John Leis’ brother also spoke during the dedication. “This was first brought to my attention a couple years ago and I thought it was pretty neat. Our family’s hope is that in the future, when children and their parents walk these streets, they might ask why these street signs are different from the other ones in town and perhaps they might learn something about these two brave, young men who fought for their country.”