It was an honor which had been a long time coming.
More than nine years ago, Army Spc. Allen Nolan, 38, of Marietta, lost his life to injuries sustained while serving in Iraq with the Ohio National Guard.
Friday several family members and area officials gathered to honor that sacrifice-officially dedicating a portion of Ohio 676 to Nolan’s memory.
“Memories are fading after nine years,” noted Allen’s brother David Nolan, who helped Ohio Rep. Andy Thompson, R-Marietta, unveil one of the large brown signs that read “U.S. Army Specialist Allen Nolan Memorial Highway.”
However, certain facts never fade, said David.
“He was a good brother. He had been in the Reserve for years,” he said.
The signs encapsulates an approximately one-mile stretch of Ohio 676 near David’s home and he will often have the chance to pass the signs, he said.
“I say it’s going to be a real great thing,” he added.
The process to have Allen honored through the naming of the highway has been a long and sometimes frustrating one, said Allen’s uncle Junior Nolan, of Marietta.
Junior has been lobbying for a highway named in his nephew’s honor for two and a half years, he said.
“It seems like it was awful slow. I don’t see where the (US Department of Veterans Affairs) did much to help my nephew,” he said, adding that the local Washington County Veterans Service Office had been helpful throughout the process.
Thompson said that while the house was quick to pass a 2012 naming bill, which including legally designating Ohio roads in honor of Allen Nolan and other fallen soldiers, the Ohio Senate was less cooperative.
“The senate had some objection to some of these naming bills. I’m not sure why but they refused to take action on it,” said Thompson.
Allen, a husband and father of five, had been serving in Iraq only a few months when the explosion occurred Sept. 18, 2004, said David.
Added Junior, “He was on a convoy, helping drive a truck. It was really dusty that night. He got off the line only about six inches.”
The vehicle tripped the improvised explosive device on the side of the road near Baghdad, sending Allen first to a German hospital and then to Brook Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas, where he died of his injuries on Sept. 30, 2004.
Nolan’s death marked the first casualty Washington County experienced during Operation Iraqi Freedom, but not the last.
Army 1st Lt. Chris Rutherford, 25, of Newport, was also killed by a roadside bomb that detonated near his vehicle outside Balad on July 2, 2007.
A portion of Ohio 7 from Lower Newport to the Monroe County Line was named for Rutherford in 2011.
In March, Marine Lance Cpl. Josh Taylor, a 2010 Marietta High School graduate became the third area soldier to lose his life since the start of the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts.
The 21-year-old marine was one of seven soldiers to lose his life to a mortar shell explosion during a training exercise in Nevada.