|Sgt. Kevin A. Gilbertson|
Sometime fairly soon, when travelers approach the U.S. 77 bridge over the Arkansas River on the south side of Arkansas City, they will pass a sign noting that it is now officially named the Sgt. Kevin A. Gilbertson Memorial Bridge.
The recent naming of the bridge carries powerful and poignant meaning for Sgt. Gilbertson’s mother, Keeley Frank, and stepfather, Randy Frank. They have ties to Arkansas City, so it is fitting for them that the bridge has been named for Sgt. Gilbertson.
He joined the U.S. Army after high school. He died in 2007 from wounds sustained during combat in Ramadi, Iraq. It was his second tour in Iraq. He was 24.
A ceremony to name the bridge was held this past Saturday, Aug. 3, near the bridge. Among those attending were military and elected officials, veterans and emergency responders. Keeley Frank unveiled one of the bridge signs with her son’s name.
“I’m honored,” his mother said, “to have his name … on this bridge. I’m beyond words.” She said she wanted to thank the people who helped with the ceremony and recognition.
|Keeley Frank with one of the bridge signs with her son’s name. The bridge is on the south side of Arkansas City. Sgt. Gilbertson died from wounds sustained in Iraq in 2007. Photo courtesy of Harlin Mitchell, KDOT|
She plans to go to the bridge from time to time for quiet time to think of her son -- “sit there with him and look at the bridge and know that it’s named after him,” she said.
The Kansas Department of Transportation will be installing signs along the roadway with Sgt. Gilbertson’s name, on either side and out from the bridge. Randy Frank, Sgt.
Gilbertson’s stepfather, said, “Kevin may be the name on it, but it represents all veterans.”
Sgt. Gilbertson, a native of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, was assigned to 1st Battalion, 77th Armor Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, Schweinfurt, Germany.
His survivors included a wife, infant son and stepson.