HEIDELBERG, Miss. - The Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT) honored a local Vietnam War Veteran, William Roy Dantzler with a highway in honor of his service.
Highway 528 in Heidelberg is now known as "Will Roy Dantzler Memorial Highway" located between the intersection of Interstate 59 and extending east to its intersection with U.S. Highway 11.
Dantzler's brother, Robert J. Dantzler said it was a long time coming. "To this family it is a great honor, it is really emotional and very special to know that our brother and comrade did not die in vein" said Dantzler.
The dedication came after House Bill 1024. In the 2015 Session of the Mississippi Legislature HB 1025 was passed:
Section 1. (2) The Mississippi Department of Transportation shall erect and maintain appropriate signs along and approaching that segment of highway described in subsection (1) of this section.
William Dantzler was born in Heidelberg and after graduating high school he was drafted into the U.S. Army and served for two years. In 1996, he re-enlisted, and served five more years.
His duties covered Fort Hood in San Antonio, Texas; Fort Stewart in Savannah, Georgia; Fort Benning in Columbus, Georgia and three tours to Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War.
During his last tour, he served with the 1st Battalion 327th Infantry, 101st Airborne Division. He received many rewards and recognition including the National Defense Service Medal and the Vietnam Service Medal.
"It will probably be bittersweet to him too, knowing that he was in a place where he was fighting for a purpose and really not knowing the cause" said his brother.
Senator Juan Barnett, District 34, said the recognition should have been done sooner. "It's kind of ironic how our military men and women are willing to die for our country, only to get recognized by our country 30 or 40 years later."
MDOT's Commissioner Tom King mentioned this is a day to remember Veterans that never received a proper homecoming.
Commissioner King said, "I feel like Will Roy Dantzler paid the ultimate sacrifice for his country, while the rest of us, I'm a Veteran can still be free and love our country and be in a free country."
Dantzler died overseas in 1971 and never knew his son, Commissioner King said the highway dedicated in his name means more than just his service to the country.
"It's important to him (Dantzler's son) to know how important his family was and for him to know that he gave his life in Vietnam for all of us" Commissioner King said.
The dedication will forever stand in honor of William Roy Dantzler, a loving father, husband, son, and brother.