1928 - Alderson High School - 1968


Greenbrier River Span Named for Local WWII Hero

Tina Alvey Register-Herald Reporter - July 3, 2011

ALDERSON — The new bridge spanning the Greenbrier River in Alderson now bears the name of a local World War II hero.

The West Virginia Legislature approved naming the span the Ensign Melvin G. Livesay Memorial Bridge, and the Division of Highways placed the identifying signs in late June, honoring the Livesay family’s wishes that the task be completed prior to the onset of Fourth of July festivities in Alderson.

Livesay’s brother, Greenbrier County Clerk William J. “B. J.” Livesay Sr., said the process to name the bridge took “several months,” noting his sister, Nadine Smith, started the ball rolling last summer.

“Nadine came up with the idea,” B. J.. Livesay said. “She talked to (U.S. Rep. Nick) Rahall’s representative, and they contacted (Greenbrier County Delegate) Tom Campbell.”

The legislation naming the bridge in Melvin Grey Livesay’s honor was sponsored by Campbell and fellow Delegates Ray Canterbury, Gerald L. Crosier and Virginia Mahan.

“We wanted to get it done before the Fourth of July,” B. J. Livesay explained. “There wasn’t any need for a ceremony.”

Melvin Grey Livesay, a Navy dive bomber pilot, was shot down and killed, along with his gunner, on Nov. 11, 1944. He was 23.

Livesay was posthumously awarded the Navy Cross, the highest medal that can be awarded by the U.S. Navy. The award was issued “for extraordinary heroism as pilot of a dive bomber in Air Group Fifteen, attached to the U.S.S. Essex, in action against major units of the Japanese Fleet during the Battle of Cape Engano in the Philippines on October 25, 1944.”

The citation notes, “Launched before dawn from his parent carrier when the northern prong of the Japanese Fleet swung from a southeasterly to a northerly course in an effort to escape the powerful units of our Third Fleet, Ensign Livesay took off under extremely adverse weather conditions in pursuit of the fleeing enemy task force.

“Selecting a Japanese aircraft carrier of the Shokaku class as his target, he skillfully maneuvered through the deadly rain of bursting anti-aircraft fire in company with other planes of this team, plunged on the enemy disposition with determined aggressiveness and struck furiously, scoring a direct hit on the hostile carrier.

“A brilliant combat pilot, Ensign Livesay defied the persistent anti-aircraft fire of the entire Japanese task force to execute his bold attack and, by his resolute initiative, daring tactics and superb airmanship in the face of terrific odds, contributed essentially to the sinking of a vital Japanese warship and to the decisive defeat of a large enemy task force.”

Livesay was also awarded the Air Medal for meritorious achievement in aerial flight as a pilot of a dive bomber, for actions against Japanese forces from Sept. 7, 1944, to Oct. 21, 1944, in addition to a World War II Victory Medal and Purple Heart.

He was the son of the late William Grey and Elsie Ford Livesay, of Lewisburg, and was married to Helen Louise Bland, of Alderson, at the time of his death.

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