By Melanie Yingst
May 11, 2014
MIAMI COUNTY — The stretch of State Route 55 from Casstown to Troy was dedicated in honor and in memory of the United States Army’s Pfc. Jeffrey L. Rice on Monday as friends and family gathered at Troy Christian Church to remember the native of Troy who was killed in Kandahar on July 19, 2012.
Rice was 24 years old at the time of his death.
Rice’s mother, Sandy Wheelock, of Casstown, tearfully accepted a memorial sign of the highway signs presented to her by State Representative Dr. Richard Adams, who led the ceremony on Monday morning.
“It is an honor and Jeff would be very proud,” Wheelock said through tears, at the podium. “He spent a lot of time on that highway — in the ditches up on his bike and on his moped. I thank you all. Thank you.”
Wheelock accepted hugs and greeted members of the small crowd who gathered to remember her son. Wheelock proudly showed those who gathered to comfort her the miniature memorial sign, which were unveiled Monday. The Pfc. Jeffrey L. Rice Memorial Highway has two signs on State Route 55 in his honor — one outside of Casstown and the other outside of the city of Troy.
Rice entered active duty service in October 2008 as a member of the 20th Engineer Battalion, 36th Engineer Brigade based out of Fort Hood, Texas. He served as a combat engineer during Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan. His role was to search for improvised explosive devices. Rice volunteered for a second tour of duty in Afghanistan in February 2012.
Rice was a native of Troy and graduated from Troy High School in 2007 and Upper Valley Career Center where he majored in welding.
Adams closed the ceremony with a benediction in Rice’s memory.
“Oh my God, we are so thankful, we are so thankful for the contributions of a life you have given for the purpose of freedom for the purpose of his fellow citizens Jeffrey Rice,” said Adams, as he also prayed for all those who continue to serve in the armed forces throughout the world.
The Miami County Veterans Memorial Honor Guard presented the colors and played “Taps,” after a 21-gun salute in Rice’s honor.