LANSING – Legislation from State Rep. Sue Allor of Wolverine – honoring one of northern Michigan’s military heroes – is one step away from becoming law, after receiving Michigan Senate approval this past week.
House Bill 4349 declares a portion of Highway US-23 in Iosco County as the “Peter C. Lemon Highway.” The section of US-23 to be named will begin at the M-55 intersection, and extend south to Tawas River Bridge.
Allor explains that the Michigan Memorial Highway Act was enacted in 2001 and allows for the naming of bridges and highways within the state. House Bill 4349 now advances to the Governor, who will decide to sign or veto the bill.
“Sergeant Lemon is a Congressional Medal of Honor and Purple Heart recipient and put his life on the line to protect American lives, freedoms and ideals abroad,” said Allor. “This honor is further testament to how thankful we are for his service to his state and his country.”
Allor says that Peter Charles Lemon, 69, served in Vietnam and bravely acted to save several members of the team he fought alongside in Tây Ninh Province in April 1970. Despite receiving numerous wounds, Lemon was able to carry other soldiers to an aid station and refused evacuation for himself while insisting other team members be tended to first.
As previously noted, after leaving military service, Lemon was invited to the White House in June 1971 to receive the nation’s highest award, the Congressional Medal of Honor, from President Richard Nixon.
According to Allor, in 2005, Lemon donated his Congressional Medal of Honor to Tawas Area High School (TAHS) to serve as an inspiration to students.
As has been reported in this publication, Lemon was born in Toronto, Canada on June 5, 1950, and he and his family moved to Tawas City when he was 2.
At the age of 11, he took the oath of allegiance to the United States with his sister, Judy, his mother, Geraldine Lemon, and his father, Charles Lemon, at the Iosco County courthouse in Tawas City.
Upon graduating from TAHS in 1968, he volunteered to enlist in the U.S. Army at the East Tawas Post Office, and became a standout during Army Basic Training at Fort Knox, Ky. He took advanced infantry training at Fort Polk, La. and graduated from Ranger Recondo School in Vietnam.
While serving in Vietnam from July 26, 1969 to July 23, 1970, Lemon was promoted to Sergeant and earned the Combat Infantry Badge, two Vietnam Campaign Medals, National Defense Medal, Good Conduct Medal, Army Commendation Medal, Purple Heart, Air Medals, two Bronze Stars, Vietnam Civil Action Medal, Vietnam Gallantry Cross, Meritorious Unit Citation and the Presidential Unit Citation.
The highway dedication effort first came about in May 2018, when the Tawas City Council voted unanimously to work with the state and pursue renaming a portion of US-23 in honor of Lemon.
The topic was brought to the attention of the council by Peter LaBlance, Mt. Pleasant, who referred to Lemon as one of the most decorated Veterans of the Vietnam War.
He stated that, as Tawas City’s only Congressional Medal of Honor recipient, it would be fitting that a street – especially one bordering Tawas City Veteran’s Park – be named after Lemon.
LaBlance provided letters of endorsement for the proposal, as well, from American Legion Audie Johnson Post 211 of East Tawas and Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 5678 of Tawas City. Several local veterans also attended the council meeting in support of the idea.
It was in March 2019 when Allor first introduced the bill to rename a portion of US-23 after Lemon.
She stated that, after his military service, Lemon excelled academically and was recognized with the Humanitarian Alumni of the Year Award in 1998, at the University of Northern Colorado. Further, he became an inductee in the elite special operations 75th “Ranger Hall of Fame” in 1994, and was also named the keynote speaker of the Tawas City War Memorial.
Allor added that it was on May 25, 2015 when the United States Postal Service issued a Vietnam War Medal of Honor Stamp, where Lemon was featured along with 47 other living Vietnam War Medal of Honor recipients.