. The naming of
the highway came as a result of the passage of Ohio's 130th General Assembly File No.
TBD, HB 440, §1, eff. 3/23/2015.of 5534.14 Army Spc. Joseph "Joey" Riley
Memorial Highway. In addition to any other name prescribed in the Revised
Code or otherwise, that portion of the road known as United States interstate
route number seventy-one, commencing at the interchange of that interstate
route and United States route number sixty-two and proceeding in a northerly
direction to the interchange of that interstate route and state route
number six hundred sixty-five, within Franklin county only, shall be
known as the "Army Spc. Joseph "Joey" Riley Memorial Highway." The director
of transportation may erect suitable markers along the highway indicating
A member of the Ohio Department
of Transportation poses in front of the recently erected sign dedicating
this segment of U,S. 71. highway to the memory of SPC Joseph "Joey"
. Michelle Riley said she didn’t think about what freedom meant until
her son joined the military. “When I think about all the members who
serve, they’re from all walks of life,” she said. “They are working
together to preserve our freedoms. When we don’t think about our freedom,
that means they’re doing their jobs.”
Spc. Joseph “Joey” Riley, a 2005 graduate of Grove City High School,
died Nov. 24 in Afghanistan, one of two soldiers killed by a bomb detonated
near their convoy. He was 27. He is survived by his parents, Rodney
and Michelle Riley; sister Cortney Riley Duncan; brother Justin Riley;
and a large extended family.
In a special ceremony held at 1:30 p.m. last Thursday, April 9 at its
facility on Haughn Road, the Ohio Department of Transportation dedicated
the portion of Interstate 71 between state Route 665 and U.S. Route
62 as the Army Specialist Joseph “Joey” Riley Memorial Highway.
Friends and family, as well as local and state officials, gathered
for the dedication, forced inside an ODOT service garage by off-and-on
rain showers. A sign will mark the memorial highway.
“It’s a sign no parent wants to see,” Rodney Riley said. Mr. Riley
said his family is grateful and proud of the outpouring of love and
support they received from the community following Spc. Riley’s death.
“The homecoming Joey received is etched in our hearts,” he said. “Joey
was loved, and he’s got a smile on his face.” From the homecoming, Mr.
Riley said, he remembers the turnout that numbered in the thousands
and the sight of little children holding and waving small American flags.
“This community is raising its children
to respect our nation,” he said. “That flag will always be there, and
this nation will continue to recognize its foundations.”
Among the attendees of the dedication was Jim Bernholtz, also of Grove
City and president of the Ohio Fallen Heroes Memorial. Bernholtz said
he was there to offer support to the Riley family.
“It reminds me of where I was less than a year after I lost my son,”
he said. Bernholtz’s son, Marine Lance Cpl. Eric Bernholtz, was 23 when
he was killed in Iraq in 2005.
“Being here, it reminds me of the patriotism of Grove City,” Bernholtz
said. “This is an area where there’s a community.”
The dedication of the section of I-71 for Riley was approved as part
of the passage of Ohio House Bill 440, which designated 22 memorial
highways and two memorial bridges throughout the state.
State Rep. Cheryl Grossman (R-Grove City) and state Sen. Jim Hughes
(R-Columbus) were among the sponsors of the legislation and spoke at
the dedication April 9. ″(Joey Riley) was a memorable young man, lots
of laughter, lots of love,” Grossman said. “We must never forget his
Hughes said hopefully another dedication will not have to be done.
“The freedoms that we take for granted, he gave his life for,” he said.
“Please, every time you go over that (highway), remember.”
ODOT District 6 Deputy Director Ferzan Ahmed addressed the Riley family
during his opening remarks. “Thank you for the gift of a young man who
put on a uniform and said, ‘I will defend my country even if it costs
me my life,’” Ahmed said.
Also in attendance was Grove City Mayor Richard “Ike” Stage, who thanked
the Riley family for its sacrifice and offered condolences for their
loss. “We can’t say enough,” Stage said.