Special Operations News

First Road Named for a Marine Raider Unveiled at Arlington

ARLINGTON, VA – The Arlington National Cemetery honored Gunnery Sgt. Jonathan W. Gifford with the dedication of Gifford Drive during the opening ceremony for its Millennium extension project, here, Sept. 6, 2018.

The Millennium Project began in the 1990’s as a movement to preserve and extend the life of the burial grounds with a 27-acre expansion.

During the event, veterans of all services, city officials and honored guests gathered for the unveiling of the two new roads connecting the extension to the main cemetery, one in honor of Gifford, a U.S. Marine Raider, and Ida Lewis, a U.S. Lighthouse Service keeper. Gifford is the first U.S. Marine to receive the honor of having a namesake street dedicated at Arlington National Cemetery. He was a founding instructor at U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Special Operations Command’s Marine Raider Training Center and posthumously received the Navy Cross, the nation’s second-highest award for valor, for his actions in Afghanistan in 2012. Gifford led a counterattack against enemy forces, killing multiple enemy combatants, before being mortally wounded.

Distinguished guests at the ceremony, including Secretary of the Army, Hon. Mark Esper, gave a standing ovation in recognition for Lisa Gifford, Jonathan’s wife, as well as her sons and other members of the Gifford family whom attended the ceremony.

Lewis, the additional honoree at the ceremony, is the first female Coast Guard veteran honored with a street in Arlington. She served as a U.S. Lighthouse Keeper, received the Congressional Gold Lifesaving Medal and was officially credited with saving more than 18 lives.

“It is my honor, and that of all those present here who have made this day possible, to acknowledge the contribution of these American heroes today,” said Karen Durham-Aguilera, executive director of the Army National Military Cemeteries. “Gunnery Sgt. Jonathan W. Gifford gave his life when he led a counterattack and rerouted that enemy in Afghanistan, saving many lives. The heroes commemorated here today have irrevocably changed American history.”

The street name dedications were followed by the burial of two Union soldiers discovered at the Manassas National Battlefield.

“The two Union soldiers we honor today were gravely wounded and sent to a field hospital, succumbing to their wounds soon after,” said P. Daniel Smith, deputy director of the National Park Service. “Now, we are blessed and honored to bring these soldiers home.”

At the ceremony’s conclusion, service members of all branches stood to recognize the honorees.

“We are proud to continue to honor the men and women who have given their lives on behalf of our grateful nation,” said Smith, deputy director of the National Park Service. “Through these developments, we will continue to share their stories and ensure the enduring memory of their sacrifices.”


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