This month the Central District helped organize two highway dedications in memory of two historic Irondale natives.
Aviation pioneer Thomas W. Benoist had a stretch of Highway U dedicated in his honor on Nov. 8 and legendary Army Ranger SGM Patrick R. Hurley had another portion of Highway U dedicated in his honor on Veterans Day.
Benoist was an Irondale native and was an early aviation pioneer who formed the world’s first aircraft parts distribution company and started a successful aircraft manufacturing company. From January to April of 1914 he operated the world’s first scheduled airline with daily flights from St. Petersburg to Tampa Bay in Florida. One of his planes also took part in the world’s first parachute jump from an motor-powered aircraft in 1912.
Hurley was an Army Ranger who was one of the first members selected for the Army Special Operations Unit known as Delta Force. The Irondale native was killed in action in 1991 while serving in Operation Desert Storm and was inducted into the U.S. Army Ranger Hall of Fame. The Army has also named Hurley Lake at Fort Bragg in honor of the Irondale native.
Pictures from both of these ceremonies can be found at our Central District Flickr page at http://www.flickr.com/photos/modot_central_district/
Thomas W. Benoist Memorial Highway Dedication
SGM Patrick R. Hurley Memorial Highway Dedication