Elizabethton City Council to consider naming bridge for Roy McKinney

John Thompson • Updated Jun 12, 2018 at 7:10 PM

ELIZABETHTON — The new Mary Patton Highway carries the name of one of Carter County’s heroines of the Revolutionary War. Now, a bridge on the new highway may bear the name of one of the county’s heroes of World War II.

On Thursday night, the Elizabethton City Council will be asked to approve the naming of a bridge over Gap Creek in honor of Roy J. McKinney.

McKinney is well remembered in Carter County government. His photograph is prominently displayed on the wall of the Carter County court clerk’s office. A plaque on the picture frame indicates he served as county court clerk from Sept. 1, 1954 to Aug. 31, 1978.

He is even better known for his military record in World War II. According to McKinney’s obituary, he served five years in the Army Air Force. He flew a total of 1,700 combat hours during 83 missions, serving as a bombardier, navigator and gunner.

The obituary said he was credited with the sinking of two German submarines early in 1942, when he was serving two years on antisubmarine patrol. He then went to England during the buildup for the invasion of Europe.

He was wounded in action three times, in February 1943, June 8, 1944, and a month later during a mission over Paris. His highest awards include the Distinguished Flying Cross and the British Distinguished Flying Cross.

He was awarded the Silver Star by Hoyt Vandenburg, commander of the 9th Air Force for McKinney’s role in successfully bombing the Maison La Fite Railroad Bridge despite wounds to his arm and leg.

Following the war, McKinney returned to Carter County and became active in veterans and service organizations. He was a member and commander of Post 2166 of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, a life member of the American Legion member of the Elk Club, a member of West Side Christian Church and a member of the Elizabethton Kiwanis Club. He was also a volunteer at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center Hospital at Mountain Home.

While the City Council will vote on Thursday for the resolution to name the bridge for McKinney, the action will take several months to accomplish. That is because the Mary Patton Highway is a state highway and the name change will require approval by the Tennessee General Assembly, which won’t be back in session until January.

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