A bridge at the head of Stoney Creek was dedicated on Wednesday to Razor John “Doc” Campbell, who was killed in action while serving in the Korean War.
Three surviving nephews were present Wednesday morning when Sara Sellers, State Representative Kent Williams, State Senator Rusty Crowe and Carter County Mayor Leon Humphrey dedicated the bridge on Highway 91, between the 17 and 18 mile markers, to Campbell, who died on Oct. 3, 1951 at Huksok-Tong, North Korea. He was one of 12 children.
Ernest “Gebe” Ritchie, a Carter County commissioner from Stoney Creek, began the ceremony at 10:30 a.m. The commissioner had taken the proposal to the Highway Committee, which approved the naming and dedication in September 2011. A resolution was also approved by the state house of representatives and senate. It was signed by Governor Bill Haslam on May 2.
“Today, we honor John, a Carter County soldier, who answered his nation’s call to defend, guard and protect our freedom and our liberty and all that he held dear,” said Sellers, who led the dedication ceremony. “He was a beacon of light.”
Sellers provided the crowd information about Campbell’s brief, but courageous time in service.
“He gave up his earthly existence as a soldier for the life that God has promised,” Sellers said of Campbell. “The John Campbells of our country keep us safe.”
Rep. Williams read a resolution, which dedicated the Highway 91 bridge to Campbell.
“I just want to say what a privilege it is for me to be here to honor a fallen soldier,” Williams said. “Anytime we can honor someone who has died in the line of battle or anyone who has served our military and fought for our country and kept our freedom. I am so happy we were able to get this house resolution.”
Sen. Crowe also spoke during the ceremony. He noted that the senate passed the resolution after it was approved by Williams and the house.
“He (Campbell) and his brother Landon were over there at the same time,” Crowe noted. “He told people when he went that he probably wouldn’t make it back. He knew he had a good chance of never coming back alive.”
Crowe said Campbell was much like other veterans from Carter County.
“He cared more about the purpose of liberty and freedom than he did his own life,” the senator said. “He had the courage to go do what he did. It amazes me the courage and the dedication as veterans that Carter Countians had and still do. We’re really proud of ‘Doc’ and I hope he is looking down on us today and knows what we have done.”
Campbell’s surviving nephews, Jerry, Argus and Rodney Campbell, uncovered the two new road signs, which had been covered with black plastic bags.
Following the dedication, Campbell’s nephews went to the nearby family cemetery, where the veteran and other family members are buried. His parents, Jack and Sarah South Campbell, are buried at the site. The cemetery is part of the Campbell homeplace and the bridge is located in front of the property.
Landon Campbell had worked to dedicate the bridge to his brother, but he died two years before Wednesday’s event. The brothers had served together in the Korean War. Nephew Rodney Campbell said that before Landon died, a family friend agreed to carry on the project. Rose Hodge, who was Landon’s neighbor, committed herself to the project and took part in the bridge dedication. She led the Pledge of Allegiance.
The state resolution, read by Williams, stated, “From time to time, the members of this General Assembly have seen fit to name certain highways and bridges to honor the memory of those courageous members of the United States Armed Forces who gave their lives while serving our nation; and whereas, no person is more deserving of this honor than the late Razor John ‘Doc’ Campbell, who made the ultimate sacrifice for his country on October 3, 1951, near Huksok-Tong, North Korea while serving in the United States Army.”
In addition, the resolution states, “Campbell selflessly gave his life while serving his country, and it is thus most appropriate that a certain bridge in his home county should be named to honor his memory, as requested by the Carter County Commission.”