RANDOLPH – Friends and family of a Western New York U.S. Army Corporal who was killed in action while serving in Vietnam gathered together Friday to dedicate a bridge in his memory.
The Interstate 86 Bridge crossing West Main Street in Randolph will now bear the name of Corporal William James Hillard who was killed in action on March 15, 1969; just 15 days after his 21st birthday.
The legislation to formally name the bridge after Corporal Hillard II was sponsored by New York State Senator George Borrello and Assemblyman Joe Giglio. It was signed into law this past July.
52-years after Hillard’s death, the community still remembers the hometown hero, including close friend Jim Bentley who met the Corporal while serving in Vietnam.
Bentley, a Randolph native as well, recalled the last time he spoke with Corporal Hillard as he helped him pack for what would be his last mission.
“The memory of Billy Hillard will never fade in my mind,” explained Bentley. “It’s been over 50-years since he was killed, and I still can remember saying to Billy, ‘see you in a few days, be careful,’ he was a true American Soldier.”
Corporal Hillard’s final resting place is just yards from the bridge, with the sign marking the memorial visible from his grave.