Signs designating William J. Bordelon Expressway unveiled

 

September 14, 2009

An official TexDot sign designating the "William J. Bordelon Expressway" was unveiled and blessed at Central Catholic High School during the first JROTC Brigade Drill of the year held on Thursday, October 1, 2009, in the Bob Benson '66 Stadium.


An ordinance authorizing the installation of honorary street markers to read "William J. Bordelon Expressway" along interstate highway IH-37 between its intersections with IH10E and IH-35N was passed and approved on March 5, 2009, by San Antonio Mayor Phil Hardberger.


The signs have now been produced by TexDot and are ready to be installed. But first, one of the 9' x 11' signs was trucked over to Central Catholic High School for a special introduction to the Bordelon Family, Central Catholic students, faculty and staff and alumni during the Brigade Drill. The sign was then be blessed by Rev. Don Cowie, S.M., Chaplain, and Rev. Patrick McDaid, S.M., Director of Campus Ministry, before being installed on the highway.


William J. Bordelon, Jr. '38


William J. Bordelon, Jr. '38, was the first native born San Antonian to receive the Medal of Honor for his bravery in World War II. A Central Catholic graduate from the Class of 1938, he was killed in action in the battle of Tarawa on November 20, 1943, at the age of 22.


The Medal of Honor citation reads:


For valorous and gallant conduct above and beyond the call of duty as a member of an Assault Engineer Platoon of the First Battalion, Eighteenth Marines, tactically attached to the Second Marines, Second Marine Division, against the Japanese-held Atoll of Tarawa in the Gilbert Islands on November 20, 1943.


Landing in the assault waves under withering enemy fire which killed all but four of the men in his tractor, Staff Sergeant Bordelon hurriedly made demolition charges and personally put two pill boxes out of action. Hit by enemy machine-gun fire just as a charge exploded in his hand while assaulting a third position, he courageously remained in action and, although out of demolition, provided himself with a rifle and furnished fire coverage for a group of men scaling the seawall.


Disregarding his own serious condition, he unhesitatingly went to the aid of one of his demolition men, wounded and calling for help in the water, rescuing this man and another who had been hit by enemy fire while attempting to make the rescue. Still refusing first aid for himself, he again made up demolition charges and single-handedly assaulted a fourth Japanese machine-gun position but was instantly killed when caught in a final burst of fire from the enemy.


Staff Sergeant Bordelon's great personal valor during a critical phase of securing the limited beachhead was a contributing factor in the ultimate occupation of the island and his heroic determination reflects the highest credit upon the United States Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country.


Signed by: Franklin D. Roosevelt, President of the United States


Bordelon '38's Medal of Honor was presented to his mother and father at a ceremony in Alamo Stadium on June 17, 1944, in the presence of Texas Governor Coke Stevenson.

Originally buried on Tarawa, his body was moved to the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu. In November, 1995, some 52 years after his death, William Bordelon '38's body was brought back to San Antonio. Prior to being re-interred in the Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery, he became only the fifth person to lie in state at the Alamo, the Shrine of Texas Liberty.

Bordelon '38 was the oldest of five children. At Central Catholic, he served as Battalion Major of the JROTC Cadet Battalion. In addition to the Medal of Honor, Bordelon '38 was also awarded the Purple Heart, Presidential Unit Citation, the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal and the World War II Victory Medal.