BUCKHORN—The city of Buckhorn celebrated one of its most decorated citizens this week with a bridge dedication ceremony as well as with the presentation of a Congressional Record.
The “SFC Dennis ‘Pat’ Wooton Memorial Bridge,” which stands at the intersection of Cedar Point Lane and Cams Branch Road on Kentucky Highway 28 in the Buckhorn community, was officially dedicated to current Buckhorn Mayor Pat Wooton during a ceremony Monday afternoon at Buckhorn School with the high school students in attendance.
“Obviously it’s a high honor to me. What difference we make in life, we’re standing on the shoulders of other people and I’ve stood on the shoulders of a lot of friends and neighbors, teachers, coaches, and just good Christian people,” Wooton said after the ceremony.
A resolution was passed by the Perry County Fiscal Court in May 2012 to have the bridge named after Wooton, who fought in Vietnam with the 25th Infantry Division from 1968 to 1970. He later became a drill sergeant with the Army Reserve and received numerous accolades for his time in the military.
SFC Mike Turner, who has been integral in the dedications of numerous bridges in Perry County in the last few years, preformed the invocation and benediction at the ceremony.
“That Sergeant First Class Wooton had the strength and courage to live such a noble life, may we too stand for what is good and honorable and just, whether on the battlefield or back home in our community,” Turner said.
According to the resolution, during his life Wooton has received the Presidential Unit Citation, Meritorious Unit Citation, Combat Infantryman’s Badge, Bronze Star, Army Commendation Medal, Nation Service Medal, Army Reserve Medal, Vietnam Campaign Medal, Vietnam Service medal, and Drill Sergeant’s Badge.
Wooton started work as a teacher at Buckhorn High School, from which he was a graduate, in 1970 and later became principal until he retired in 2000. He said he hoped that since the bridge was one travelled by most of the students at Buckhorn School that students would be reminded of the things he has accomplished in the community every time they cross it.
“When we leave here we like to think we all would leave something besides our footprints when we’re gone,” he said.
Wooton was also presented with a Congressional Record, the highest honor a senator can bestow on a person from their home state, which had been entered into the Library of Congress last week by Senator Mitch McConnell. Keynote speaker and friend of Wooton, Donna Baker McClure, read the record at the dedication.
“Pat Wooton’s lifetime of service to his country, Commonwealth, and community embodies out great Kentucky motto, ‘United we stand, divided we fall,’” McClure read.
McClure said she had become friends with Wooton after he worked as a field representative from 2007-2013 for Congressman Hal Rogers because she was working as one for McConnell at the same time.
“Today, as I drove over the bridge that’s now named after Pat, I paused to think about all the service that he’s done in his lifetime,” she said.
After retiring from teaching, Wooton ran for Perry County Sheriff, a position which he held from 2003-2006.
Master of ceremonies at the dedication, Allison Wells, said Wooton was a man with many titles, the most obvious of those being a community leader.
“In the words of John F. Kennedy, ‘A nation reveals itself not only by the men it produces but also by the men it honors, the men it remembers.’ Pat is surely one to be honored,” Wells said.