Dedication ceremony set for new McLain Memorial Bridge

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The new $11 million bridge between Mexico and Peru will be dedicated this fall in the name of Pfc. Buddy W. McLain, 24, of Mexico, who was killed in action in Afghanistan in 2010. (Bruce Farrin/Rumford Falls Times)

A sign on the new $11 million bridge between Mexico and Peru announces the dedication ceremony naming the structure the Pfc. Buddy W. McLain Memorial Bridge. (Bruce Farrin/Rumford Falls Times)

Larry McLain, standing, addresses town officials and others at a meeting last week in Mexico on dedicating the new $11 million Mexico-Peru bridge in honor of his son, Pfc. Buddy W. McLain. The Army cavalry scout was ambushed, along with five others, in Afghanistan in November 2010. (Bruce Farrin/Rumford Falls Times)

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Pfc. Buddy W. McLain (Submitted photo)

A stone, engraved with the initials of Army Pfc. Buddy W. McLain of Mexico, was taken by his wife, Chelsea McLain, from Howard Pond in Hanover, where he loved to go fishing. The stone is from The Summit Project, which pays tribute to fallen service members from Maine who have died in the line of duty since Sept. 11, 2001. (Submitted photo)

MEXICO — A ceremony to honor a fallen local soldier will be held Saturday, Sept. 15, on the new Pfc. Buddy W. McLain Memorial Bridge.

The bridge over the Androscoggin River between Mexico and Peru will be dedicated to the U.S. Army soldier from Mexico who was killed in Afghanistan on Nov. 29, 2010. McLain was a cavalry scout and one of six members of the 101st Airborne Division ambushed on a training mission during Operation Enduring Freedom. He was 24 years old and left behind a wife and son.

“This means the world, and it’s not really for me,” Buddy’s father, Larry McLain of Mexico, said. “Obviously, I’m a proud dad, but this is for my grandson, Owen,” who is now 8.

“I want him to know that people aren’t ever going to forget his dad. That when people cross over this bridge and see those plaques, they’re going to know his dad’s name. They’re going to know he died for our country. It’s hard to express how grateful I really am. My heart is full,” McLain said.

Last week, McLain invited town officials, police and fire personnel, and others to the Mexico Town Office to discuss plans for the dedication ceremony.

The bridge will be closed to traffic from noon to 2:30 p.m., and Peru Fire Chief Bill Hussey said ladder trucks will fly a large American flag at one end of the span.

About 80 motorcyclists representing the Patriot Guard Riders, the Legion Riders, the Veterans of the Armed Forces and the Exiles Motorcycle Club will gather at the Exiles clubhouse at the bottom of Morrison Hill in Dixfield, proceed along Route 2 and line up on the bridge beginning at noon.

Dave Johnson of the Patriot Guard Riders said his group and Veterans of the Armed Forces will escort a memorial stone from The Summit Project and an American flag across the bridge. The stone was taken from Howard Pond in Hanover, Buddy’s favorite fishing spot, by his wife, Chelsea McLain, and is engraved with his initials.

The Summit Project pays tribute to fallen service members from Maine who have died in the line of duty since Sept. 11, 2001, by carrying their memorial stones on tribute excursions.

“I’ve talked to my daughter-in-law, and I believe she is going to be there to receive the stone,” Larry McLain said.

The ceremony will also include a flag presentation, followed by remarks about Buddy McLain and his service, and a Killed in Action plaque presented to Larry McLain.

U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin, R-Maine, will be the keynote speaker.

McLain said he’s also expecting 75 to 100 Gold Star member families — immediate relatives of members of the U.S. Armed Forces who have been killed in combat or in support of certain military activities.

Another meeting on the dedication ceremony will be held at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 15, at the Peru Fire Station.

Maine Department of Transportation resident engineer Catherine Mettey said by phone Wednesday that officials hope to open the new $11 million bridge to traffic by the end of the month. The 85-year-old bridge it replaces will eventually be dismantled.

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