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Dayton signs bill renaming Wabasha bridge for fallen soldier

WABASHA — A nearly year-long quest to rename the Wabasha's bridge over the Mississippi River in honor of a fallen Vietnam soldier has become a reality.

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The Interstate bridge in Wabasha, Minn.

WABASHA — A nearly yearlong quest to rename the bridge over the Mississippi River at Wabasha in honor of a fallen Vietnam soldier has become a reality.

DFL Gov. Mark Dayton signed a bill into law this week that officially renamed the Interstate Bridge the "Michael Duane Clickner Memorial Bridge." Clickner was the only Wabasha resident killed in the Vietnam War. His brother, Bill Clickner, said the family is thrilled that the bridge will bear his brother's name.

"We are ecstatic and humbled by the news," he said.

Michael Clickner grew up in Wabasha and graduated from Wabasha High School in 1967. He enlisted in the Army and completed special forces training. In 1969, he was sent to Vietnam and served in Company A, 3rd Battalion, 503rd Infantry. One month before his tour of duty in Vietnam was supposed to wrap up, Clickner was killed when a booby trap was triggered while trying to train in his replacement. He died on April 11, 1970. He was 21.

In a statement, Dayton praised Clickner's service.


"Sgt. Michael Duane Clickner served our state and nation with great courage. This bridge will always honor him and his heroism," Dayton said.

The quest to rename the bridge dates back to last summer. Clickner's childhood friend, Bill Hager, was on vacation in the South when he noticed several bridges and overpasses renamed in honor of veterans who died in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. He contacted Sen. Matt Schmit, DFL-Red Wing, for help with the effort, and the city of Wabasha passed a resolution in support of the renaming. Schmit successfully amended the transportation bill with the language to name the bridge after Clickner.

Schmit said he is pleased he was able to help make this happen.

"It shows the process can work and work for the right reasons," Schmit said. "it's a small thing we can do to remind ourselves of that sacrifice."

Supporters need to raise $992 in order to construct a sign with the bridge's new name. Hager said he is just starting to begin fundraising efforts but has already been contacted with several offers of financial help in the wake of media coverage.

Bill Clickner said in many ways the bridge's renaming is not just about his brother. It's also about remembering the 58,000 American servicemen killed in Vietnam.

"A lot of families suffered the grief and the loss as we did. It was a life-changing event for him to die for the whole family," he said.

So what would Michael Clickner think about having a bridge named after him?


His brother said, "I think if he were looking down at the bridge he would say, 'Thank you so much for remembering me.'"

Michael Duane Clickner

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