EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

November 6, 2013

City bridge to be named in memory of Iraq veteran

By Yadira Betances
ybetances@eagletribune.com

---- — LAWRENCE — The bridge on Canal Street spanning as a gateway into the city will be named in memory of Army Staff Sgt. Alex Jimenez.

The ceremony will be held on Nov. 15 at noon.

"I'm happy that his name will be etched forever in the city's history," Jimenez' father, Andy Jimenez said.

Jimenez, 25, went missing in action on May 12, 2007, when he was captured in an ambush west of Mahmudiyah, Iraq. Spc. Byron Fouty of Waterford, Mich., and Pfc. Joseph Anzack Jr. of Torrance, Calif., also were captured. Anzack’s body was recovered from the Euphrates River.

They were among three members of the 2nd Brigade of the 10th Mountain Division captured by terrorists during an ambush south of Baghdad. The remains of Jimenez and Fouty were recovered July 8, 2008, west of Jurf As Sukhr in Iraq.

Council President Frank Moran brought the idea to the council after he was approached by several veterans including Bill Collins.

"This is a very significant to the city of Lawrence and to me it was worth every effort we did," Moran said.

"When people stop at the light to take the left, I want them to see the big plaque there. I want them to know who he was."

The City Council voted unanimously on Sept. 19 to name the bridge for Jimenez, who lived at 311 Water St. Moran said he also had full support from Mayor William Lantigua, Veterans Service director Jaime Melendez and the city's Economic Development director Patrick Blanchette.

The plaque built by Valley Monument of Methuen bears a photograph of Jimenez in uniform along with the Army insignia and the words, "Dedicated to The Memory of Our Fallen Hero." It also has an excerpt of a letter Jimenez wrote in 2000 to an Army recruiter explaining the reason why he wanted to be a soldier.

It reads: "Ever since I was born, I've felt an attraction for technology, problem solving, action and adventure. I believe that in the US Army I may reach my goals which are being all that I can be...If I ever do get recruited, I promise to fight for the innocent who can't fight for themselves and for the USA.

Valley Monument owner Kevin Shea said the plaque is made out of bronze, with letters lasered etched out of the same material, giving it a three-dimensional look. Shea, a Marines Corps veteran was more than please to work on the plaque.

"Anytime I get an opportunity to do anything for a veteran, it gives us great pleasure. They put everything on the line for us and we have to appreciate them," Shea said.

Jimenez was not the only Lawrence resident to die in Iraq. Army Sgt. Pierre Raymond was killed eight years ago in a mortar blast while serving in Ramadi, Iraq.

Andy Jimenez, who has lived in Lawrence since 1987, became teary eyed when he learned the council had approved the project.

During the agonizing 14 months his son was missing in action, Andy Jimenez said he found strength through his faith and the support of local residents who held weekly vigils to pray for Alex’s return.

“There were a lot of cities and towns who came together, but Lawrence was phenomenal,’’ Andy Jimenez said. “I’ve always said Lawrence is a small city with a big heart.’’

READ MORE ABOUT ALEX JIMENEZ AND OTHER LOCAL WAR VETERANS North of Boston Media Group is publishing a collectible coffee-table book featuring hundreds of local veterans, including the story of Alex Jimenez. Due out in early December, "Salute To Veterans" is being offered through Nov. 13 at a special purchase price of $29.95. The book regularly sells for $39.95. This hard-bound book, which recognizes veterans from the Civil War to Modern Warfare, features more than 500 photos -- all of people from the North Shore and Merrimack Valley of Massachusetts and New Hampshire. To order your copies of "Salute To Veterans" visit http://www.pedimentbooks.com/store/product/merrimack-veterans-book/. You can also call Linda Gardner at The Eagle-Tribune, 978-946-2241.