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Bridge named for fallen soldier
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The bridge over Dry Creek on Highway 70 in Dowelltown was renamed in honor of the late PFC Billy Gene Anderson last week.Anderson died on May 17, 2010 in the Badghis province of Afghanistan after insurgents attacked his unit with improvised explosive devices.Anderson enlisted in the U.S. Army on June 26, 2009 and was deployed to Afghanistan on Jan. 13, 2010. He was due to return home in July of that year.Anderson earned several awards, including the Bronze Star Medal, posthumous; the Purple Heart Medal, posthumous; Army Commendation Medal; Army Good Conduct Medal, posthumous; National Defense Service Medal; Afghanistan Campaign Medal with a Bronze Service Star; Global War on Terrorism Service Medal; Army Service Medal; Overseas Service Ribbon; NATO Medal, posthumous; Combat Action Badge; posthumous; Parachutist Badge, basic; Weapons Qualifications Badge; and Overseas Service Bar.He was assigned to the 508th Special Troops Battalion, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, out of Fort Bragg, N.C.He left behind a wife, Caitlin, and a daughter, Lilly Grace, now three years old, as well as a loving extended family and a grieving community.Anderson’s survivors, along with local and state public officials and several veterans, gathered at the bridge Thursday morning to witness the dedication of the structure in his name.The dedication ceremony included a prayer by local minister Bobby Thomason and the posting of colors and a rifle salute by the Veterans Honor Guard of the Upper Cumberland.County Mayor Mike Foster, State Senator Mae Beavers, State Representative Terri Lynn Weaver, and Don Smith, assistant commissioner of the Department of Veterans Affairs, all addressed the crowd that had assembled on the roadside.Representative Weaver sang “The Star Spangled Banner.”Anderson's widow, Caitlin, and his mother, Marlene, received replicas and copies of the act to rename the bridge, which was adopted by both the state house and senate and signed by Governor Bill Haslam.Senator Mae Beavers said it is the community’s duty to honor our fallen, and that we owe a debt of gratitude for the family’s sacrifice.“It's a special day,” Beavers said, “We should always honor those who gave their lives to defend our freedom. I also want to thank the family for the sacrifice they made.