Memorial bridges and roads dedicated Thursday
By Ivory Riner
On Thursday Senator Jim Tracy and Marshall County Mayor Joe Boyd Liggett unveiled the signs on memorial bridges and roads dedicated to a number of Marshall County citizens.
Unique in the county, the bridge over Rock Creek on Highway 31A on the way to Chapel Hill is dedicated to two men, brothers who both finished their military careers with the rank of major.
Morris G. Looney enlisted in the US Army in 1937 and served his country in WWII and Korea, retiring in 1967 as a major with an honorable discharge. Looney, a member of the 810th Military Police Company, found himself under direct fire during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941. His work as a military police officer during and after the attack helped to establish law and order during a time of chaos. He fought in the Korean War from 1950-1953 as a member of the 212th Military Police Company and received a Bronze Star for his actions as a military police and infantry officer. He later distinguished himself by serving as an Army officer overseas in Libya, Italy, and Iran between 1957 and 1966. His service in Iran as an advisor to the Imperial Iranian Gendarmerie. He worked for the State Department beginning in 1967 as an adviser in South Vietnam for five years, receiving severe wounds during the Tet offensive which he carried with him for the rest of his life. Looney served in Laos from 1972-1973, working for the State Department as a narcotics officer in an effort to stop the international drug trafficking in heroin. Marshall County was his home for 38 years as a farmer, raising goats, cattle, and horses. He was a member of the Lions Club, American Legion, and Rich Creek Volunteer Fire Department. Looney worked at the polls to maintain the rights of Marshall County citizens and to fulfill their responsibilities as voters.
His brother, Quenten S. Looney, also enlisted in 1937 and served his country in WWII and Korea, retiring in 1962 as a major with an honorable discharge. He received a Purple Heart for his actions during the Battle of the Bulge while serving with the 75th Infantry Division, 9th Army. He fought to relieve the 101st Airborne Division surrounded at Bastogne by German forces during the Battle of the Bulge, and received the Bronze Star for his actions during the Battles of the Rhineland, Ardennes, and Central Europe. He jumped behind the North Korean lines twice during the Korean conflict as a member of the 187th Regimental Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, to rescue American prisoners of war and link up with U.S. ground forces. He distinguished himself as Director of Military Personnel Records at the Department of Defense Military Personnel Records Center between 1962-1975 with the rating of GS-14. Looney lived in Marshall County for 34 years and served on the Marshall County election commission for 10 years monitoring election results. He was also a member of the American Legion and Rich Creek Volunteer Fire Department of which he was a past president.
Marshall County's law officers who fell in the line of duty have both been honored by naming roads after them.
Eugene Leverette began his career in law enforcement as a dispatcher for the Lewisburg Police Department. While working as a dispatcher, he began studying criminal justice, taking courses with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, and the arson division with the goal of becoming Lewisburg's first detective. His knowledge in forensics later made him the original crime scene investigator for the City of Lewisburg, investigating every crime for the city and many in the county. He passed away in 1978 at the young age of 39. West Ellington Parkway has been named for him.
Billy W. Blackwell, served in the U.S. Army from 1967 to 1969, including one year in the Vietnam War. He began his career with the Lewisburg Police Department in 1974, and was shot on duty on Feb. 1, 1975. As a result of his death, President Gerald Ford wrote to Blackwell's wife, "Officer Billy Blackwell will be mourned by all people whom he pledged to protect. He has our lasting admiration for his devotion to the cause of law enforcement and the well-being of our society, a cause for which he made the highest sacrifice." A portion of U.S. Hwy 431/State Route 50 has been named for him.
Other prominent citizens were recognized by having bridges named after them.
William C. "Bill" Hooten, from Mooresville, worked as a dairy farmer and later began his own construction business, leaving his imprint all over Marshall and surrounding counties with the many yards of concrete he poured. His work can be seen in bridges, houses, barns, and more. His bridge is over Doggett Branch.
Louis Donald Lingner was born and raised in Nashville. In 1947, he was given the responsibility of managing WJJM radio station and also owned and ran the Lewisburg Paint Store. Lingner's memorial bridge can be found going over Rock Creek.
A. D. "Pop" Luna was a Tennessee Walking Horse buyer, seller, and breeder. His best horse was Ike's Tradition, a Blue Ribbon winner at Belfast Horse Show in 1969. In partnership with Tom Johnson, he owned Go Boy's Black Lady; a beautiful mare who won 28 straight blue ribbons and placed 4th at the Celebration in 1965. He was a life long member of Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders' and Exhibitors' Association and a charter member of the Walking Horse Trainers Association and the Marshall County Horseman's Association. "Pop" passed away in 1971. County officials thought it was fitting to name the bridge on the Tennessee Walking Horse Parkway after a prominent Marshall County citizen and Tennessee Walking Horse representative.
The last memorial bridge dedicated on Thursday was for James Caldwell, who helped in the founding of the Clay Hill Beagle Club and was a member of the Sure Shot Rabbit Hunters Association, where he won numerous awards. Caldwell's name can be found on the bridge that was built over Spring Creek on Highway 270.