Fauquier veterans honor World War I hero in bridge renaming ceremony

Monday, Jun. 8 | By Mark Grandstaff (fauquier.com)

Photo by Debora Franklin

Motorists who drive the U.S. 29 Bypass bridge on Meetze Road will now see the name of one of Fauquier's honored World War I veterans.

On Sunday, the Fauquier Veterans Bridge Council unveiled the bridge's new name: the PFC Clay Rankin Memorial Bridge. Private First Class Clay Preston Rankin earned a Silver Star Medal for displaying remarkable courage and devotion in the front line through heavy machine gun fire and the Italian War Cross for gallantry in action while carrying important messages under enemy fire during World War I.

A crowd of Rankin's descendants, including Korean War veteran James Rankin, came to watch the ceremony, which briefly closed Meetze Road on Sunday.

The Fauquier Veterans Bridge Council led the effort to rename the bridge in Clay's honor. The Fauquier County Board of Supervisors approved their request in November of 2014, and the Commonwealth Transportation Board gave their blessing to the name change in February.

Earlier in 2014, the Bridge Council put forward a request to name the Opal Bypass bridge for Medal of Honor recipient Hospital Steward William Shacklette, U.S. Navy. The supervisors and Commonwealth Transporation Board approved that request.