Sunday, Sept. 24, buses will pull out of the parking lot at Cooper’s for a short ride to the Fort Jenkins Bridge. There, passengers will disembark and gather at the middle of the bridge for a ceremony both solemn and joyous.
At 1 p.m., the bridge will be renamed and rededicated as the U.S. Army Specialist Dale J. Kridlo Bridge to memorialize the Pittston Area graduate who was 33 when he was killed in action in November 2010 in Kunar Province, Afghanistan.
Kridlo was killed shortly before he was scheduled to go home to for a Christmas visit with his father, Al, in Hughestown, after his unit — the 27th Engineer Battalion, 20th Engineer Brigade, XVIII Airborne Corps — finished a year-long tour of duty.
Because Dale is buried in Arlington National Cemetery near Washington, his father doesn’t get to visit him as often as he’d like. And while Dale is depicted on the downtown Inspiration Mural and is honored on the Greater Pittston Chamber of Commerce Hometown Heroes Memorial, for the nearly seven years since Dale was killed, his father dreamt of a significant individual memorial to his son in Pittston.
Two years ago, Al mentioned this to state Rep. Mike Carroll. From their conversation arose the idea to rename and dedicate the Fort Jenkins Bridge as the Spc. Dale Kridlo Bridge.
Carroll said the renaming of a Pennsylvania Department of Transportation bridge requires the passage of a bill. “It was a bill with no controversy,” Carroll said. “It was merged with bills to memorialize a handful of other bridges.”
Carroll said this is the first time he has been involved in a bridge rededication.
“It’s not really my thing, but this is the right thing to do,” Carroll said.
PennDOT installed plaques on the Pittston and West Pittston entrances, which will be unveiled today.
Carroll said Dale’s mother, Michelle Dale, who lives in Florida, and his twin daughters, Delyne and Zoe, who live in Colorado, will attend the dedication ceremony.
The family sent out 50 invitations to the ceremony. It is also open to the public. The buses will leave Cooper’s at 12:30 p.m.
Spc. Kridlo loved to hunt and fish. He was a fan of the Philadelphia Eagles and Phillies. He was third generation Army. His late grandfather, Aloysius, served in World War II. His father, Al, served during the Vietnam era.
The Fort Jenkins Bridge is more than 90 years old, having opened in 1926.
The bridge was so named because one of the abutments stood on the site of the historic Fort Jenkins, where colonists were forced to surrender to a large force of British, Indians and Tories in the precursor to the Battle of Wyoming.
At the original dedication of the bridge in February 1926, William Conlon, secretary of the Pittston Chamber of Commerce, said a line ironically appropriate for today’s rededication:
“This will perpetuate in the hearts and minds of all of us a greater love and reverence for the ideal for which brave men fought.”