CHAPMANVILLE - A ceremony was held Friday afternoon dedicating a Logan County bridge to one of its fallen heroes.
David Hiram Stamper, who was originally from Wilkinson, served in the rank of Specialist 4 during the Vietnam War as a crew chief for the 129th Assault Helicopter Company. Stamper was killed when he was shot during a combat assault in the An Khe Pass area of Vietnam on April 14, 1972.
During that final mission, when Stamper's aircraft was under heavy fire, he received a wound that knocked him down from his weapon. With disregard to his own safety, he pulled himself up and placed fire on enemy positions, at which time he received a second shot. He then sprung back up and was shot down a third time, which proved to be fatal.
For his actions, Stamper was posthumously awarded numerous awards, including the Silver Star for gallantry in action, the Bronze Star Medal, the Air Medal (Sixth through Eighth Award), the Purple Heart, the Good Conduct Medal, the Air Medal with Second through Fifth Award, the National Defense Service Medal, the Vietnam Service Medal, the Vietnam Campaign Medal, the Aircraft Crewman Badge and the Marksman Badge with Automatic Rifle Bar.
On March 2, 2017, West Virginia House of Delegates District 24 Rep. Ralph Rodighiero (D), introduced a resolution requesting that the Division of Highways name the Chapmanville Route 10 Overpass carrying U.S. 119 over W.Va. 10 in Logan County the "U.S. Army SPC David H. Stamper Memorial Bridge." On Friday afternoon, that became a reality.
During the ceremony, which was held at the Park and Ride in Chapmanville and included a veterans' service and salute, five members of his unit - including the pilot who was with him - were in attendance, along with several of his siblings, family members and local officials, which included Rodighiero, former state Sen. Art Kirkendoll (D) and representatives for U.S. Sen. Joe Machin (D) and U.S. Rep. Carol Miller (R).
Mike Holbrook also flew his Vietnam-era UH1-B Huey helicopter over the ceremony.
Dennis Faucher, who served as warrant officer for the Assault Helicopter Company and was aircraft commander with Stamper the day he was killed, became tearful recalling Stamper's brave actions.
"He was a very courageous soldier, a good man to fly with, a good guy," Faucher said.
When asked about how he feels about the bridge dedication, Faucher said it was a "long time coming."
Phillip K. Skeens II, who is Stamper's step-first cousin once removed, has advocated for a bridge to be dedicated to Stamper for years and called the dedication a "huge honor."
"It's a huge honor to David and his family and the crew members that served with him, but as far as Logan County goes, David was a son of Logan, and David represented a big work ethic," Skeens said.
Skeens said there are efforts to have Stamper posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor, which is the highest and most prestigious award given to U.S. military service members.
"I'm tickled to death," said Rodighero when asked how he feels about the dedication. "I'd like to see every veteran that we've lost in the southern part of West Virginia, or for that matter, in the whole state of West Virginia, recognized, whether it's bridges, roads or whatever. They need complete recognition where they won't be forgotten. The families don't forget them, but the people - each individual - ought to respect and hold onto that name forever."
Dylan Vidovich is a news reporter for HD Media. Contact him by phone at 304-896-5196.