HEIDELBERG, MS (WDAM) - A dedication ceremony was held Thursday in Heidelberg to honor one its hometown heroes.
MDOT announced the designation of a segment of Mississippi Highway 528 to the memory of Will Roy Dantzler, who was killed during the Vietnam War.
The segment of Mississippi Highway 528 in Jasper County beginning at its intersection with Interstate 59 and extending easterly to its intersection with U.S. Highway 11 has been designated and will be known as the Will Roy Dantzler Memorial Highway.
Signs have been erected along the route by the Mississippi Department of Transportation as a part of the dedication.
Will Roy Dantzler was born in 1943 in Heidelberg. He is the third child of Albert and Mariella Dantzler.
He joined Shady Grove Baptist Church as a child and enjoyed hunting and fishing.
He attended Shady Grove consolidated High School and later graduated from South Side High School in 1963 with honors.
Upon graduating, Danzler was drafted into the U.S. Army and served two years.
In 1966, he re-enlisted and served five more years.
During this time, his duties covered Fort Hood in San Antonio, Texas; Fort Stewart in Savannah, Georgia; Fort Benning in Columbus, Georgia and three tours of Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War.
During his last tour, he served with the 1st Battalion 327th Infantry, 101st Airborne Division.
During his tors of duty to his country, he received many awards and recognition including the National Defense Service medal and Vietnam Service Medal.
He was killed in Vietnam in 1971 as the result of a helicopter crash.
Southern Transportation Commissioner of the Mississippi Department of Transportation, Tom King, said that designating part of the highway is very important to honor Dantzler's memory and the ultimate sacrifice that he paid.
King, a Vietnam War veteran himself, recognized the significance of those whose memory lives on in the hearts and minds of family, friends and those whose lives Will Roy Dantzler touched.
"Now 50 years after the conclusion of the Vietnam War, MDOT is honored to dedicate this section of US Highway 528 and Jasper County as a memorial to Will Roy Dantzler," King said. "The Will Roy Dantzler Memorial Highway will remind us who travel the section of highway in Jasper County of the sacrifice made by all of the men and women who serve as part of United States Armed Forces."
Robert Dantzler, brother of Will Roy Dantzler, said that while the loss of his brother still weighs heavy on his family's hearts upon hearing that his brother would be honored by the dedication of the stretch of highway, it was very emotional for them.
"It makes us really appreciative of my brother's sacrifice and that he didn't die in vain and to be recognized by this program, it really means a lot to our family," Dantzler said. "If my brother was here, I know he'd say that it was simply his desire to do all that he could to make things better, I think that he would be pleased."
The Mississippi Department of Transportation will maintain all the signs which are placed along the Will Roy Dantzler Memorial Highway.
Family, friends and elected officials were on hand for the ceremony and MDOT Honor Guard gave the Presentation of Colors during the event.