Two local men who gave their lives in service to their community – Army Sgt. First Class Raymond Buchan and Pennsylvania State Corrections Officer Sgt. Mark Baserman – have been recognized with the state officially naming bridges in their honor.

Buchan, a Westmont Hilltop High School graduate, was killed in Iraq in July 2007.

Last week, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf signed legislation renaming the Washington Street bridge, which goes over the Stonycreek River in Johnstown, as the SFC Raymond R. Buchan Memorial Bridge.

“The importance of that bridge naming is really not only to honor and remember the young Americans like Sgt. Buchan, but again also we really need to teach our young Americans about what has resulted from the great sacrifices of our American heroes,” said retired Lt. Col. Craig Minnick, a friend of the Buchan family. “And obviously Sgt. Buchan was one of them.”

His mother, Carol Buchan, died unexpectedly on Sunday, not long after learning about the naming.

State Rep. Jim Rigby, R-Ferndale, 71st Legislative District, called Carol Buchan “the driving force behind this.”

“That’s my only regret that I didn’t get an opportunity to tell her myself that we got it through and we had it signed,” Rigby said.

Rigby added: “It’s a great feeling to know that I got the support both locally and at the state level from all members of the House and Senate that unanimously agreed to name this bridge after Sgt. Buchan. I’m very humbled by it. If we can do this much for somebody that sacrificed so much, God, let’s do it every day.”

Similarly, a bridge on U.S. Route 219 over Walters Mill Road near SCI-Somerset will be now called the Mark J. Baserman Memorial Bridge thanks to the efforts of several officials, including state Rep. Carl Walker Metzgar, R-Berlin. Baserman died from wounds inflicted by an inmate at SCI-Somerset in 2018.

“Sgt. Baserman gave his life to protect Pennsylvania from its most violent criminals,” said Pennsylvania State Corrections Officers Association President Larry Blackwell in a statement.

“It’s only fitting that this hero be honored and remembered for his bravery, honor and public service. The PSCOA thanks Gov. Wolf for signing this legislation and for the leadership of state Rep. Carl Metzgar, who shepherded the bridge naming through the legislature. We also want to thank all legislators who supported this bill. Your support will ensure Sgt. Baserman will always be remembered.”

Dave Sutor is a reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. He can be reached at (814) 532-5056. Follow him on Twitter @Dave_Sutor.

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