The entire route of Highway 20 in Okanogan County, from Mazama to Wauconda, will be called the “Vietnam War Veterans’ Memorial Highway” to honor veterans’ service.
The highway was renamed by the Washington State Transportation Commission in a resolution adopted Jan. 19.
The renaming request was made by Louie Wilson, a member of American Legion Post 84 in Oroville. Oroville and Tonasket American Legion members collected 325 signatures in support of the renaming, legion member Arnie Marchand said.
The campaign for the honorary name entailed a year of letter writing and phone calls. At the hearing last week, the commission took testimony and asked a few questions before passing the resolution unanimously, Marchand said.
The resolution provides history of United States involvement in the Vietnam War. A military advisory group took over training of South Vietnam forces in 1956. Since U.S. Armed Forces became involved in direct combat in 1965, more than 2 million men and women served in the war. Between 1965 and 1975, 1,134 Washingtonians were killed in action. In all, 58,183 U.S. servicemen and women lost their lives in the war, according to the resolution.
In appreciation of that service, the commission is asking the Washington State Department of Transportation to provide signs “so that future generations will remember the exemplary service of these war veterans,” according to the resolution.
The transportation commission is a seven-member body appointed by the governor. In addition to naming state highways, bridges and ferries, the commission recommends a statewide transportation plan, sets highway tolls and ferry fares, and offers policy guidance and recommendations.
Renaming ceremonies for the roadway will be held in Twisp and Tonasket in the spring after the pass is open.