Macon County and the Town of Franklin will seek to name a bridge after a local man and veteran of the Vietnam War who was held for six years as a prisoner of war.
At their last meeting, the Macon County Board of Commissioners unanimously adopted a resolution requesting that the North Carolina Department of Transportation designate the Bridge over Highway 441 South Business/U.S. 64 bridge near Westgate Plaza as the “Nathan B. ‘Nat’ Henry Bridge.” The Town of Franklin is expected to pass a similar resolution in the near future.
A native of Macon County and lifelong resident of Burningtown, Henry was the recipient of two Silver Stars, two Bronze Stars and two Purple Hearts, among other citations of valor for his outstanding service in the Vietnam War. From July 12, 1967, to March 5,1973, Henry was held as a POW by the North Vietnamese Army. He was captured after battle in which he was the sole survivor of his platoon.
Henry is the subject of the 2009 book, “To Hell and Beyond,” by local author Beth Waldroop Vinson. The book details the story of Henry’s capture, imprisonment and the many trials he has faced.
“Of course there’s a lot of heroes that have served in the military, but I don’t think there’s very many who have suffered as he did,” said commissioner Ronnie Beale on Monday. “Nat Henry is a special man, and he’s been a great contributor to Macon County in a lot of ways,” added Beale. “We’re lucky that he made it out of there alive.”
Always an active member of his community, Henry is a past president and current chairman of the Board of Directors of the Macon County Vietnam Veterans Chapter 994. He is a life member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the American Legion. He was also one of the founding members of the Burningtown Fire Department.
The resolution passed by the commissioners notes that Henry is a much sought after speaker at military events and has always made himself available to promote veterans and other humanitarian efforts.
According to Beale, the bridge was chosen because of its proximity to the Macon County Veterans Memorial on the Georgia Road. Coincidently, the bridge was built in 1973.
“It’s taken 40 years to start recognizing the service of everybody who served in Vietnam,” said Beale. “We’re paying tribute to Nat and his great sacrifice, but at the same time we’re also paying tribute to all those who served in the Vietnam conflict. As his comrades will tell you, there is no one more deserving of the tribute than Nat Henry.”