ANSONIA –Donald E. Byrum, Vietnam war veteran was honored Thursday by having a piece of State Route 118 dedicated to him.
Byrum was an Ansonia native his entire life. He was awarded the Purple Heart, which is given to soldiers who were injured or killed on April 5, 1917 or after, and the Bronze Star Medal, which is given to soldiers for heroic acts or service.
Marjorie Class, Byrum’s sister, said his group was lead by their commander into a rice patty field for a search and destroy mission. The commander had been awake for over 24 hours and in an attempt to try to find a shorter route, cut through the fields. Ultimately, it cost Byrum his life because Viet Cong, (Vietnamese Communists) were waiting.
“Viet Cong just mowed them down,” she said. “He had been there three months and he was killed.”
Byrum was killed on June 28, 1966. Class said it was his birthday.
Byrum’s other sister Joyce Walters and brother Larry Byrum were also in attendance, as well as several classmates. His brother Robert Byrum, who lives in Arizona, was unable to attend. The officiator was Ben Thaeler, Deputy District Director for Congressman Warren Davidson.
Years after his death, Class said she contacted the Veterans Administration in Greenville to see if she could make honoring her late brother a reality. It was a long process but it finally happened.
“It’s been years and years. I decided one day, I wonder if I can get a road sign put up for Donnie,” she said. “It’s taken about a year and a half, but it worked. We got our sign.”
The highway honoring Byrum is located on State Route 118, where it intersects with Elroy Ansonia Road to the intersection with Beamsville-Union Road. This section of the highway is now called Private First Class Donald E. Byrum Memorial Highway.
Class said she felt very proud to have something honoring her brother.
“Donnie is going to be so proud,” she said.