A family in the Lost Creek community of Perry County paid tribute to one of their own who was lost in the Vietnam War by having the road where he was raised renamed in his honor.
The Perry County Fiscal Court and the Kentucky General Assembly adopted resolutions this year to dedicate Kentucky Route 1146 in Perry County as the “PFC Billy Ray Patrick Memorial Highway.” Billy Ray was the son of Lula Patrick, who still lives on Route 1146.
Patrick said her son was drafted into the Army, into the 25th Infantry Division, and sent to Vietnam in February of 1966; he was 22 years old. Just a few months later, in May, Patrick received news that Billy Ray had been mortally wounded in battle in South Vietnam and had died.
“I saw the police car pull up out there and I knew what it was,” she remembered. “I started running out that way, I couldn’t face it. I got out there and I thought, there’s no sense in it, you’re going to have to face it sometime.”
Patrick said her younger son and a few other family members had been playing with the idea of having the highway dedicated to Billy Ray for a few years, though no one had really tried to get the process started until last year. Patrick’s nephew, Lloyd Engle, brought the issue up at a Perry County Fiscal Court meeting last summer.
“I told them I’d bring it up, you know, and they got it done,” Engle said.
Engle said he also had to talk to Rep. Fitz Steele, D-District 84, to have a resolution passed through the state House to have the transportation cabinet dedicate the road.
Kentucky House Joint Resolution 60 reads, “… the passing of Billy Ray Patrick has left a void which cannot be filled, even these many years later, among his family and friends and … it is fitting and proper that the service and sacrifice of Pfc. Billy Ray Patrick be remembered in a tangible way, no matter how tardy or seemingly insignificant that memorial may be.”
The resolution was passed and the highway was renamed last month.
According to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, Patrick’s name is honored on panel 7E, row 120 of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C.
Lula Patrick said if her son knew the road he grew up on would bear his name he would be very proud, and she is too.
“He’d be so tickled about it,” she said.