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Dover honors fallen hero

Family members and friends watch as the memorial sign is unveiled during the Senior Airman Elizabeth Loncki bridge dedication ceremony Oct. 12, 2018, at Dover Air Force Base, Del.

Family members and friends watch as the memorial sign is unveiled during the Senior Airman Elizabeth Loncki bridge dedication ceremony Oct. 12, 2018, at Dover Air Force Base, Del. Thousands of Team Dover Airmen and their families cross the bridge that spans over Delaware Route 1 and connects Dover AFB to family housing. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Mauricio Campino)

Jennifer Cohan, Secretary of the Delaware Department of Transportation, gives opening remarks during the Senior Airman Elizabeth Loncki bridge dedication ceremony Oct. 12, 2018, at Dover Air Force Base, Del.

Jennifer Cohan, Secretary of the Delaware Department of Transportation, gives opening remarks during the Senior Airman Elizabeth Loncki bridge dedication ceremony Oct. 12, 2018, at Dover Air Force Base, Del. In 2007 Loncki became the first woman from Delaware to die in combat. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Mauricio Campino)

U.S. Senator Tom Carper offers remarks at the Senior Airman Elizabeth Loncki bridge dedication ceremony Oct. 12, 2018, at Dover Air Force Base, Del. Also in attendance, U.S. Senator Chris Coons, Delaware Congresswoman Blunt Rochester and Delaware Governor John Carney. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Mauricio Campino)

U.S. Senator Tom Carper offers remarks at the Senior Airman Elizabeth Loncki bridge dedication ceremony Oct. 12, 2018, at Dover Air Force Base, Del. Also in attendance, U.S. Senator Chris Coons, Delaware Congresswoman Blunt Rochester and Delaware Governor John Carney. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Mauricio Campino)

Airmen of the 436th Civil Engineer Squadron, Explosive Ordnance Flight listen to a speech by Delaware Governor John Carney during the Senior Airman Elizabeth Loncki bridge dedication ceremony Oct. 12, 2018, at Dover Air Force Base, Del.

Airmen of the 436th Civil Engineer Squadron, Explosive Ordnance Flight listen to a speech by Delaware Governor John Carney during the Senior Airman Elizabeth Loncki bridge dedication ceremony Oct. 12, 2018, at Dover Air Force Base, Del. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Mauricio Campino)

Col. Joel Safranek, Commander of the 436th Airlift Wing speaks at the Senior Airman Elizabeth Loncki bridge dedication ceremony Oct. 12, 2018, at Dover Air Force Base, Del.

Col. Joel Safranek, Commander of the 436th Airlift Wing speaks at the Senior Airman Elizabeth Loncki bridge dedication ceremony Oct. 12, 2018, at Dover Air Force Base, Del. The bridge spans over Delaware Route 1 and connects Dover AFB to family housing. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Mauricio Campino)

Family members and friends hold hands during an emotional speech by U.S. Senator Tom Carper at the Senior Airman Elizabeth Loncki bridge dedication ceremony Oct. 12, 2018, at Dover Air Force Base, Del.

Family members and friends hold hands during an emotional speech by U.S. Senator Tom Carper at the Senior Airman Elizabeth Loncki bridge dedication ceremony Oct. 12, 2018, at Dover Air Force Base, Del. Loncki was killed just 20 days before she was due to return home from her Iraq deployment. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Mauricio Campino)

Staff Sgt. Johny Hargrove, 436th Civil Engineer Squadron explosive ordnance craftsman, gives closing remarks at the Senior Airman Elizabeth Loncki bridge dedication ceremony Oct. 12, 2018, at Dover Air Force Base, Del.

Staff Sgt. Johny Hargrove, 436th Civil Engineer Squadron explosive ordnance craftsman, gives closing remarks at the Senior Airman Elizabeth Loncki bridge dedication ceremony Oct. 12, 2018, at Dover Air Force Base, Del. Hargrove, along with Representative Sean M. Lynn, spearheaded the project to rename the bridge in honor of a fallen hero born and raised in Delaware. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Mauricio Campino)

Surviving family members and friends attend the Senior Airman Elizabeth Loncki bridge dedication ceremony Oct. 12, 2018, at Dover Air Force Base, Del.

Surviving family members and friends attend the Senior Airman Elizabeth Loncki bridge dedication ceremony Oct. 12, 2018, at Dover Air Force Base, Del. Loncki, an explosive ordnance technician, along with three of her team members were killed by a vehicle borne improvised explosive device south of Baghdad, Iraq, on Jan. 7, 2007.(U.S. Air Force Photo by Mauricio Campino)

Airmen of the 436th Civil Engineer Squadron Explosive Ordnance Flight pose next to the memorial sign at the Senior Airman Elizabeth Loncki bridge dedication ceremony Oct. 12, 2018, at Dover Air Force Base, Del.

Airmen of the 436th Civil Engineer Squadron Explosive Ordnance Flight pose next to the memorial sign at the Senior Airman Elizabeth Loncki bridge dedication ceremony Oct. 12, 2018, at Dover Air Force Base, Del. The bridge was named in honor of their fellow EOD Airman who gave the ultimate sacrifice in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Mauricio Campino)

DOVER AIR FORCE BASE, D -- The Airmen and City of Dover paid a special tribute to a fallen Air Force warrior, Senior Airman Elizabeth Loncki, by naming the bridge connecting Dover Air Force Base and family housing, over Route 1 in her honor October 12, 2018. Loncki, explosive ordnance disposal technician, who was born and raised in New Castle County, Delaware, and gave the ultimate sacrifice for her country during Operation Iraqi Freedom.

In 2002, after briefly attending the University of Arizona, Loncki enlisted in the United States Air Force as an explosive ordnance journeyman; a field few women enter. In 2006, she deployed with the 775th Civil Engineer Squadron out of Hill Air Force Base, Utah, to the AL-Mahmudiyah district, south of Baghdad, in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Loncki and her team successfully disarmed 129 improvised explosive devices on 194 missions in and around Baghdad. January 7, 2007, just 20 days before she was scheduled to return home from deployment, a vehicle borne IED took the lives of Loncki and three teammates. She was the first woman from Delaware to be killed in action.

The renaming project was facilitated by the Delaware Department of Transportation and spearheaded by Staff Sgt. Johny Hargrove, 436th Civil Engineer Squadron explosive ordnance craftsman and Rep. Sean M. Lynn.

“This bridge dedication isn’t about putting a sign on a bridge or a building,” said Hargrove. “It’s about having a physical reminder of Liz’s life and the ultimate sacrifice that she paid for this country. This bridge will serve as a reminder for everyone who enters and leaves Dover Air Force Base, as well as a reminder of the spirit of Senior Airman Loncki.”

Among those in attendance at the ceremony were Loncki’s surviving family members, her friends, Team Dover Airmen, unit leaders and local civic leaders. The speakers for the ceremony were Col. Joel Safranek, Commander of the 436th Airlift Wing, Jennifer Cohan, Secretary of the Delaware Department of Transportation, Delaware Governor John Carney, Delaware Senators Tom Carper and Chris Coons, Delaware Congresswoman Lisa Blunt Rochester, Delaware Veterans Affairs Director Lawrence Kirby and Staff Sgt. Johny Hargrove, 436th Civil Engineer Squadron explosive ordnance craftsman.

"We are honored to share in dedicating the bridge, which most of us use on a daily basis, to honor the memory of Senior Airman Elizabeth Loncki,” said Safranek. “She made the ultimate sacrifice for her country, and it is only fitting to have this memorial here at Dover where we return our fallen service members with dignity, honor and respect. I am grateful to be part of this and pleased to see the project come to completion."