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
“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
“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.