Both of Lake County’s state representatives are sponsoring a bill that would name Painesville-Warren Road in Leroy Township in honor of U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Kyle McKee.
McKee, a Leroy Township native and Riverside High School graduate, was killed in a Black Hawk helicopter crash in November in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, leaving behind a wife and three children. He was 35.
The legislation sponsored by state Reps. Jamie Callender, R-Concord Township, and Daniel P. Troy, D-Willowick, would designate Painesville-Warren Road in the township as the “SSG Kyle R. McKee Memorial Highway.”
Callender and Troy discussed House Bill 291 during a June 8 Ohio Transportation and Public Safety Committee hearing.
“(McKee) was more than just a soldier,” Callender said. “He was a son, his parents still live in Leroy...he was a husband and a father. So this road naming is not just for him. He made the ultimate sacrifice for the people of Leroy, for the people of Lake County, for the people of Ohio, for the people of the United States and for the people of the entire world. To serve and protect.
“But this road naming bill is more for his family, who also made a sacrifice...," he added. "It will remind them their sacrifice is appreciated by us. For his wife, for his kids, as they get older, to know that their dad made a difference. That their father was a hero.”
Troy said that Leroy Township has Lake County’s smallest population, but “it’s probably the most patriotic population you’ll find anywhere in the county.”
“I think that by renaming Painesville-Warren Road — Route 86 — through the entire length of Leroy Township in memory of Sgt. Mckee, it sends a message to that community, to his parents, to his family, that this is an individual who gave the ultimate sacrifice for our country,” Troy said. “He’s a proud son of Lake County and certainly we want to commemorate his memory with this road naming.”
In 2002, between his junior and senior years of high school, McKee enlisted in the army. After graduation, he fully entered military service and became a UH-60 Helicopter Repairer, according to sponsor testimony submitted by Callender and Troy. McKee was sent around the world during his military service. He was deployed to Iraq, Afghanistan, Korea, and Egypt.
He was the recipient of multiple military awards and decorations, including: Meritorious Service Medal, Air Medal, Army Commendation Medal (three times), Army Achievement Medal (four times), Army Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal (two times), Iraq Campaign Medal (three times), Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Korea Defense Service Medal, Noncommissioned Officer Development Ribbon, Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon, the Combat Action Badge, Senior Aircrew Badge, the Parachutist Badge and the Air Assault Badge.
On Nov. 12, McKee and five other soldiers were killed while conducting routine operations when their helicopter suffered a catastrophic failure and crashed.
House Bill 291 awaits further consideration in the House Transportation and Public Safety Committee.