RANDOLPH — To honor and recognize his service in peacetime and war, the Interstate-86 bridge crossing West Main Street in the town of Randolph will be renamed the Corporal William James Hillard II Memorial Bridge, announced state Sen. George Borrello, R-Sunset Bay.
Sponsored by Borrello and Assemblyman Joseph Giglio, R-Gowanda, legislation marking the designation passed both houses of the Legislature and awaits Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s signature.
Born in Kennedy, Hillard grew up in Randolph and graduated from Randolph Central School in 1966. He joined the Peace Corps in 1967, helping farmers in India, and then joined the U.S. Army in 1968 to serve in Vietnam. He was killed in action in Quang Ngai, Vietnam, on March 15, 1969, just 15 days after his 21st birthday.
“This bridge will stand as a testament to Corporal Hillard’s commitment and selflessness to our great nation,” Borrello said. “It is also a reminder to all who cross it that freedom isn’t free, it is made possible by the service and sacrifice of people like Corporal Hillard. We can never fully repay that debt, but we can remember and honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice for us and our nation.”
Borrello said Hillard devoted his short life to serving others and serving his country. He embodied the ideals of honor, duty and courage which exemplify the men and women who serve in our country’s armed forces. He enlisted, leaving his home and a young wife behind because his country needed him.
“Corporal Hillard’s devotion to our country and the ideals of liberty and democracy on which it stands will never be forgotten,” Borrello added.
Giglio said Hillard is a shining example of what we all should strive to be. He left his home to serve overseas first with the Peace Corps in India and then with the Army in Vietnam, where he ultimately lost his life, serving his unit and his country with distinction.
“His sacrifices cannot be forgotten and because we were able to name this bridge, they will be remembered for generations to come,” Giglio added. “We thank Corporal Hillard’s family for bringing his heroism to our attention and allowing us to help in honoring his memory.”
During his military service, Hillard received a Purple Heart, two Bronze Star medals, one Oak Leaf Cluster, a Good Conduct Medal, a National Defense Service Medal, the Vietnam Service Medal, the Vietnam Campaign Medal, the Vietnamese Gallantry Cross with Palm and the Presidential Unit Citation.
“Thank you to Assemblyman Giglio for shepherding this bill through the Assembly. I am proud to stand with him to honor Corporal Hillard and I urge Governor Cuomo to sign the bill marking this designation,” Borrello said. “As Americans, we must never forget that the freedoms we cherish were secured by the lives and blood of patriots like Corporal Hillard.”