CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. -- L.C. Bird High School graduate Aaron Wittman's will forever be remembered after a ceremony in which the Chester Bridge was renamed in his honor.
Sgt. Wittman was killed in Afghanistan on January 10, 2013. He was serving during Operation Enduring Freedom. He was 28 years old.
"Our lives have never been the same," Aaron's father Duane Wittman said.
During Sunday's ceremony, Chesterfield leaders, family, neighbors, and those who served with Wittman spoke about his character and service.
"Aaron was one of those once in a lifetime friends. That was loyal, loving, caring, always there to talk and listen,” childhood friend Lt. Stephen Prugh said.
"He always looked out for his teammates and for those who were by his side and always put them ahead of his interests,” Capt. Christopher Day, who served in Army with Aaron Wittman, said.
Every military family who loses a loved one fears their loss would be in vain and their loved one forgotten, Wittman's father said.
"Every tribute, regardless of what it is, is welcomed and appreciated, " he added.
Following his 2003 graduation from Bird High School, Wittman attended The Citadel and served in the South Carolina National Guard.
He was initially deployed to Afghanistan in 2007. He enlisted in the U.S. Army in 2010.
"We are proud that we can recognize Aaron by naming this bridge in his honor," Steve Elswick, chairman of the Chesterfield County Board of Supervisors, said. "It is a fitting way to memorialize his life and the sacrifices he made to defend our country."
"Aaron crossed this bridge every day, not knowing that one day this bridge would be his,” father Duane Wittman said. "To see his name up there, it's very emotional.”
His father, a retired Army officer, said he hoped people will see Aaron's name and recognize the importance of what military men and women do for the rest of us.
"We're here today because so many people for so many years for so many wars went out there and did the hard thing. To keep us free as well as many other nations in the world,” Duane Wittman said.
Wittman is survived by his parents; Duane and Carol Wittman; a brother, Capt. Nicholas Wittman, U.S. Marine Corps, and wife Rikki Felts Wittman; a sister, Amber Wittman and husband CW4 Billy Frittz, U.S. Army; two grandmothers, Betty Wittman and Tommi Contreras; and two nephews.