High School Senior Honors "Hometown Heroes" in Bridgeville - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

High School Senior Honors "Hometown Heroes" in Bridgeville

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BRIDGEVILLE, Del. - Thanks to a high schooler's senior project, 21 WWII veterans from Bridgeville are being honored as "Hometown Heroes."

From now until Labor Day, 21 banners featuring the veterans' names and service-era pictures hang from lampposts and power line poles throughout town. Woodbridge High School senior Jacob Johnson was inspired to put the banners together after a senior project on the military draft, and seeing similar "Hometown Heroes" projects in Pennsylvania.

"We haven't really done that down here in Delaware and everyone wants to see that stuff," he says. "It makes me feel excited that people actually want to see hope in this country."

Johnson reached out to local organizations such as the Lions Club, the Kiwanis and the Greenwood VFW to secure donations for the banners--about $3,000 in total. Those with the town of Bridgeville say when Johnson approached them about the project, they were immediately on board.

"It was a no brainer," says Bridgeville Town Manager Jesse Savage. "From day one we were supportive and willing to help however we could."

Two of the men featured on the banners were present for the inaugural hanging--Sidney Stein, who served in the Navy, and Jack Coogan Hallman, who was a B-17 radio operator in the Army Air Corps. Hallman says seeing his face on the banner shocked him.

"I was totally surprised. It's sort of overwhelming to say the least," he says. "I looked at that and couldn't believe it was me."

Hallman spent seven months as a P.O.W. in Germany after his team was shot down. He says they weren't allowed to make friends with the ground crew due to the high rate of B-17 crews being killed in action.

"We were the most expendable people in World War Two," he tells WBOC. "Our average mission was 8-10 missions. My crew and I got out together."

Hallman says they were shot down on their eighth mission. Hallman's crew received three presidential citations for their service, and Hallman has a Purple Heart as well.

"We march on. We do the best we can and it's easy to do," Hallman says. "We've been well blessed. I won't say lucky, but well blessed." 

Hallman says he commends Johnson's impending service, who starts Marines boot camp in mid-June. That sentiment was echoed by many in the community.

"We want Jacob to know our support doesn't end when he graduates and is going away," says Savage. "He's serving for all of us and we couldn't be prouder of him."

Johnson's mother says they hope to re-hang the banners every year. 

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