Woodbridge senior to hang Hometown Hero banners

By Rachel Farris

Bridgeville will soon be displaying pride in its World War II veterans, thanks to a local senior. Jacob Johnson, a 12th grade student at Woodbridge High School, is in the process of completing his senior project, which requires a finished product at the end to be presented to the school. The product of Johnsons research and efforts have taken shape in roughly 10-15 banners that each feature a different WWII veteran from the Bridgeville area.

Johnsons pathway in school was the Marine Corps JROTC, where he is Cadet Company 1st Sgt.; his final project topic, he said, was on the differences and similarities between the draft and volunteer systems in the military. He felt that his project could let him honor his own family in the process, and in looking into his great-grandfathers service, he found that he and his brothers were all drafted in WWII. This, along with a similar banner project his mother saw in Pennsylvania, sparked the idea that he could honor these men with a Bridgeville Hometown Heroes Banner Project.

Its a way to show pride and respect for our veterans, Johnson said. Were trying to honor our WWII veterans by bringing the community together with the sense of patriotism and honoring civic service. He has brought his project before several community groups, such as the Kiwanis Club of Bridgeville, the Bridgeville Historical Society, the Bridgeville Lions and Lioness, the Greenwood VFW, the Seaford VFW, and the Marine Corps League, as well as the Town of Bridgeville, for support. Nearly every group has agreed to sponsor the project. The VFWs had records that Johnson was able to use to track down the veterans, and he collected information and photos of between 10 and 15 vets to feature on the banners.

He also has had help from community members to represent African American and women who served in the war, so he hopes to realistically honor all of Bridgevilles WWII veterans.

The Lions Club had committed to covering the cost of seven banners, while the Lioness and Historical Society were each committed to one banner; two families of veterans had also personally sponsored their veterans banners. The Town of Bridgeville will provide the equipment necessary to hang the banners and take them down, while the Bridgeville Kiwanis offered volunteers to help hang them.

The banners will be up from Memorial Day to Labor Day and cover Market St. from T.S. Smiths to Tonys Pizza, as well as Main St. to the 404 intersection if they have enough. Johnson added that he is hoping for this to be an annual display.

I am still deciding on who Im going to hand the project down to for next years senior projects, Johnson explained. Other seniors can follow the projects essentials while still making it their own, such as honoring veterans from different eras or different communities. Especially since we share a school district with Greenwood, said Karen Johnson, Jacobs mother and the Bridgeville Library Director, so it would be perfect just to keep going on and on for other communities.

Johnson plans to attend boot camp at Recruit Depot, Parris Island in South Carolina on June 12, just after graduating from Woodbridge. There, he will train to operate and repair motor vehicles for the Marine Corps.

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