BRISTOL, Tenn. (WJHL) – Classmates and friends of Jasper Duel Clardy gathered on Ash Street Wednesday afternoon more than 50 years after his death in the Vietnam War.
Members of Tennessee High School’s class of 1965 tugged on the sheet covering up a new marker designating the bridge as “Jasper Duel Clardy Memorial Bridge.”
For them, it’s been a long time coming.
“We’ve talked about it for years, something that’s a memorial for Jasper, so after 50-plus years we finally came through and got it done,” said Charlie Arnold, who remembers his friend “like a brother.”
Clardy was the first Bristolian to die in the Vietnam War. He died four months after he was enlisted in the U.S. Army, on Dec. 28, 1968. He was 21 years old.
Clardy’s friends gathered to remember the man they described as “brave,” “caring,” and a lover of music. The bridge rests along a stretch of the Twin City that Clardy called home.
“There was a group of us that were like brothers,” Arnold said. “We were pretty tight, all of us.”
Sen. John Lundberg, who spearheaded the legislation that made the bridge dedication possible, attended the ceremony. Arnold said the bridge dedication took a few years to make its way through the General Assembly, but if you ask him, the wait was worth it.
“A lot of other people will remember Jasper, carrying it on down to our grandchildren,” he said.