COLUMBUS – After being approved through the Ohio Legislature and signed by the Governor last year, portions of State Route 48 in Southern Montgomery County today are officially dedicated and renamed the Sergeant Kevin J. Lannon Memorial Highway (between Rahn and David Roads) and the Sergeant Cameron H. Thomas Memorial Highway (between David and Stroop Roads).
“These heroes – both highly skilled Army Rangers, lost their lives while serving our country in combat. They were truly men of tremendous courage and selfless sacrifice,” said State Representative Andrea White (R-Kettering), who worked with local Gold Star parents Jim and Leslie Groves and veteran Greg Hoertt to pass the bill. “With this road naming dedication ceremony, we want to honor and remember these heroes, who represent so many others in our community who have given their lives, and the legacies they leave behind as part of our collective community.”
Sgt. Lannon, a 1980 graduate of Archbishop Alter High School in Kettering, passed away Oct. 27, 1983 during Operation Urgent Fury in Grenada after the 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment parachuted into combat under heavy enemy fire. Assisting as a medic and infantryman during a two-day conflict under heavy enemy fire, Sgt. Lannon was directly responsible for saving several lives by providing immediate medical care. He posthumously received the Bronze Star with Valor for his heroic actions.
Sgt. Thomas, a 2012 graduate of Kettering Fairmont High School, enlisted in the Army upon graduation. He was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment and was the youngest person, at the time, to earn the Ranger Tab. Sgt. Thomas was on his third deployment on April 27, 2017, when he was killed in action in Nangarhar Providence, Afghanistan on a mission to intercept a high-level leader of the insurgent group ISIS-K.
Sgt. Thomas was awarded the Joint Service Achievement Medal, the Army Achievement Medal, Joint Meritorious Unit Award, Army Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal with Campaign Star, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Non-Commissioned Professional Development Ribbon, Army Service Ribbon, and the NATO Medal. Sgt. Thomas was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart and Bronze Star, as well.
Today’s dedication ceremony completes the Fallen Heroes Memorial Highway stretch of Route 48 that runs through the City of Kettering, with the first stretch of the Highway named in 2020 in honor of Chief Warrant Officer 3 James E. Groves III, who was killed in a helicopter crash in 2013 while serving in Afghanistan. “This highway gives people driving through the community an opportunity to see a visual reminder and remember for generations to come all of the veterans and fallen heroes who have given so very much to enable the freedoms we enjoy,” said Rep. White.
The road naming dedication ceremony gave the community, including members of the Alter and Fairmont High School bands and several local veteran groups and Honor Squad, Honor Guard and Patriot Guard members, an opportunity to remember these brave men for their service and sacrifice and support the friends and family that Sgts. Lannon and Thomas left behind. The ceremony also included friends and family providing meaningful remarks to remember the lives they lived and the people they loved. The ceremony began outdoors at David’s Church and David’s Cemetery, with family and friends proceeding to the corner of David Road and St. Rt. 48/Far Hills Avenue for the official sign unveilings.