The day of July 12 could not have been a more perfect one in order to honor a Tyler County, West Virginia, native and true American Hero. The sun shone brightly and a slight breeze tussled the American flags held high and proud as the bridge heading into Middlebourne was dedicated in honor of Staff Sgt. Jesse Adam Ault.
Staff Sgt. Ault was killed in Baghdad as part of of Operation Iraqi Freedom in April 2008, when the vehicle he was riding in struck a roadside bomb. He left behind an extended family and many, many friends.
In February, the Tyler County Commissioners unanimously approved a resolution to rename the bridge for Ault, and with the assistance from WV Delegate Roger Romine and Senator Larry Edgell, the legislature approved to rename the bridge.
A bridge in Middlebourne was dedicated to the memory of U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Jesse Adam Ault on Saturday. Taking part in the dedication ceremonies above are (left to right): Travis McGuffy and Chip VanAlsburg of Frontier Communications; Virginia Billiter, Eric Billiter, Drew Ault, Roger Ault, Phyllis Ault; WV Delegate - Roger Romine; VFW Post 6327 Commander - Fred Clayton; Tyler County Commissioner - Eric Vincent; Lt. Col. Thomas Cook; VFW Post #6327 - Conley Wyatt; Tyler County Superintendent of Schools - Robin Daquilante; WV Army National Guard - Sgt. Major James Allen; and Tyler County Commissioner - John Stender.
"This has been a long road," Romine said to the gathered crowd of family and friends. "Staff Sgt. Jesse Ault made the ultimate sacrifice and he deserves this honor, and I'm honored to be a part of this ceremony."
Romine went on to extend special appreciation for Senator Larry Edgell's diligent work in getting the bridge renamed.
"There's a lot that has to go into something like this," he said. "And Senator Edgell has been instrumental in bringing it about."
He also recognized the participation in the ceremony of the Patriot Guard Riders, who arrived at the ceremony early and escorted the family from the ceremony site at Tyler Consolidated High School to the bridge, as well as the Tyler County Sheriff's Dept. for traffic control during the ceremony at the bridge itself.
Chip VanAlsburg, Frontier Communications General Manager - North Central WV and associate Travis McGuffy were in attendance and presented SSgt. Ault's mother, Virginia Billiter, a Remembrance Flag with assistance from Sgt. Major James Allen of the WV Army National Guard.
"With this flag we are bringing tribute with honor and remembrance," VanAlsburg said. "With eternal gratitude and respect."
Tyler County Commissioner Eric Vincent read the resolution aloud and added that it was just not another resolution to put their name on for him and fellow Commissioners John Stender and Charles "Pork" Smith. "This came from our hearts," he said. "It's important that this young man's life and service to his country be recognized."
" . . . In memory and recognition of the contribution made to our county and country by this outstanding soldier and leader who lived life to serve and who crossed said bridge to and fro going to the school and the land for which he gave his life."
Lt. Colonel Thomas Cook on behalf of the WV National Guard was in attendance for the dedication saying, "Staff Sgt. Jesse Ault was not only a son, brother, and friend, he was a West Virginian. And as a West Virginian and a soldier, we proudly honor him."
The Patriot Guard Riders escorted family and friends from Tyler Consolidated to the bridge site and stood faithfully in honor of the fallen soldier as the ceremony continued on site.
The Sistersville American VFW/American Legion Posts Honor Guard conducted a short ceremony at the bridge as well as a rifle salute. The ceremony concluded with the playing of SSgt. Ault's favorite song, "Country Roads", played by Archie Spencer of Paden City.
"We are so very pleased with all of this," said Ault's mother, Virginia Billiter. "Some things I was ready for and expected, but some things they have surprised me with. We are very grateful to everyone who worked to make this happen and to everyone who is here today."
The "U.S. Army SSG Jesse Adam Ault Memorial Bridge" has now been dedicated. Those who cross it will hopefully have a moment pause, to think about and honor a true American hero.
WHEREAS, Staff Sgt. Jesse A. Ault gave his life forever and always on April 9, 2008, serving his country during Operation Iraqi Freedom.
WHEREAS, Staff Sgt. Jesse A. Ault re-enlisted in the National Guard and took his wife's place when she was recalled to active duty so she could stay stateside and care for their children.
WHEREAS, Staff Sgt. Jesse A. Ault was born in Wheeling, West Virginia, and spent ten years of his life residing in Middlebourne, West Virginia.
WHEREAS, Staff Sgt. Jesse A. Ault attended and graduated from Tyler Consolidated High School in 1998 where he played football and baseball.
WHEREAS, Staff Sgt. Jesse A. Ault was dedicated to his school, friends, and community where he spent an important stint during his life.
WHEREAS, Staff Sgt. Jesse A. Ault left our small community to serve and protect the citizens of this great land and the Constitution of this great nation.
WHEREAS, Staff Sgt. Jesse A. Ault's memory leaves a proud smile on the faces of the citizens of Tyler County recounting his grand adventure of 28 years as a student, friend, family member, husband, father, and warrior soldier.
NOW THEREFORE, BE IT HEREBY RESOLVED that the Tyler County Commission extends its support to any and all efforts to rename the bridge north of Middlebourne on Route 18 near the turnoff to Sellers Road, Tyler County, West Virginia, as the Staff Sgt. Jesse A. Ault Memorial Bridge in memory and recognition of the contribution made to our county and country by this outstanding soldier and leader who lived life to serve and who crossed said bridge to and fro going to the school and the land for which he gave his life.
WITNESSETH this 31st day of January, 2014
Tyler County Commissioners - Charles Smith, Eric Vincent, John Stender