When Army Spc. Allen Nolan lost his life to injuries suffered in a missile attack in Iraq in September 2004, he became the first Washington County resident to die fighting in the war in Iraq.
Nolan, who had been a long-time employee at Broughton Foods, left behind a wife and five children. He was also a beloved brother and son, said his brother, David Nolan, 59, of Marietta.
Now, more than eight years later, Allen's family is just one step away from having a local portion of highway named in his honor.
Marietta resident David Nolan, 59, stands near the spot that he and his family hope will soon bear the marker for memorializing his brother, Army Spc. Allen Nolan. Members of the Nolan family and the Veterans Service Office have been working to have a portion of Ohio 676 near the Washington County Career Center named “U.S. Army Specialist Allen Nolan Memorial Highway” in honor of Allen, the first Washington County resident to lose his life serving in the war in Iraq.
The Marietta Times
Ohio Rep. Andy Thompson, R-Marietta, introduced a bill this year that would name a section of Ohio 676 "U.S. Army Specialist Allen Nolan Memorial Highway."
"It did pass through the House, but it's not through the Senate yet. So it's not official until they do something," said Thompson.
Hopefully, that bill will pass through the Ohio Senate early next year, he added.
The memorial highway project has been a long time coming, said David Nolan.
"My uncle started this about a year and so many months ago, then we started talking to the Veterans' Office about it," said David.
Chad Wright, a veterans service officer in training at the Washington County Veterans Service Office, said he has been working on the project alongside fellow employees since he started the job back in August.
Allen Nolan will be the second Washington County veteran to have a portion of highway named in his honor, said Wright.
In 2011, a stretch of Ohio 7 that runs from Lower Newport to the Monroe County Line was named "First Lt. Christopher Rutherford Memorial Highway" in honor of Army 1st Lt. Chris Rutherford, 25, who was the second Washington County soldier to die during the Iraq War.
"These guys are Washington County heroes who died in the line of duty. Really that is our job, to dedicate something to them so people will remember their name," said Wright.
Allen's uncle, Marietta resident Junior Nolan, originally spearheaded the project.
"I just think it's a shame it has taken so long," said Junior.
Junior said he originally expected signage dedicating the highway to be put up on Memorial Day and then thought perhaps they would have the go-ahead by Veterans' Day. However, the dedication keeps getting stalled by the legislative process, he said.
"I just hope it gets done by this Memorial Day," he added.
Though he is frustrated that the project has taken so long, he is hopeful that the memorial highway will be a fitting tribute to his nephew.
"It will be something to really notice," said Junior.
Currently, "U.S. Army Specialist Allen Nolan Memorial Highway" is the only project in the works to memorialize a specific solider, said Wright.
However, the VSO plans to honor more Washington County heroes in a similar fashion, he said.
"We might try to do one for Kyle Hockenberry," said Wright.
Army SPC Hockenberry, a Marietta resident and 2010 Frontier High School graduate, lost both legs above the knee and his left arm above the elbow to an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan in June 2011.
However, said Wright, those plans are very tentative. For now, putting the sign up to memorialize Allen Nolan is the first priority, he said.