Highway honor finally awaits Bordelon
By Scott Huddleston on October 2, 2009 at 5:56 PM
The first native San Antonian awarded the Medal of Honor soon will be remembered by thousands of motorists daily with signs designating a section of highway downtown in his name. Some 400 people gathered Thursday at Central Catholic High School to bless one the signs that will pay tribute to William James Bordelon, who attended Central Catholic and became a hero of the Nov. 20, 1943 invasion of Tarawa. Bordelon, born on Dec. 25, 1920, was a Marine Corps staff sergeant. He destroyed three enemy machine gun positions and rescued two wounded Marines, ignoring his own injuries, on the first day of the three-day invasion of the Pacific island. He was killed in a burst of enemy fire just as his last explosive destroyed a fourth machine gun post, according to official reports.
His family and supporters since have faced a long struggle to get Bordelon the recognition he deserved. In March, the City Council agreed to have a section of I-37 downtown named for him. The signs declare the stretch that passes the Alamodome, between I-35 and I-10, the Staff Sgt. William J. Bordelon Freeway.
Angelo DiPasquale, a World War II veteran who lobbied hard for the honor, said the sign includes the Navy’s Medal of Honor insignia, unlike other highway signs erected in memory of others awarded the nation’s highest honor for bravery.
“That’s the first time any of the Medal of Honor signs have had anything like that put on them,” said DiPasquale. He said the Texas Department of Transportation expects to have the two signs up in about two weeks.