A Nevada assemblyman hopes a new designation for Interstate 11 can be used to honor two of Boulder City’s Purple Heart recipients.
Recently, the Nevada Legislature passed Senate Bill 331, which designates the state’s portion of the interstate as the Purple Heart Highway to express pride and gratitude to Nevadans who have received the recognition.
Assemblyman Glen Leavitt, who represents Boulder City, shared with the Legislature the sacrifices of Shane Patton, a Navy SEAL killed in action in 2005, and U.S. Army Cpl. Matthew Commons, who was killed in action in 2002, when the bill was approved May 7.
“Anytime I can promote their service, I do it. … They’re our hometown heroes,” Leavitt said.
Leavitt added he also hopes to have their names on some of the markers for the highway.
Chase Patton, one of Shane Patton’s younger brothers, said the remembrance means a lot to him and his family.
“It shows me that the community and people of the United States still have respect for their veterans,” he said. “It just shows me the community has an outpouring of love for Shane and what he did and knows what freedom costs.”
The Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 36 is named after Commons, who graduated from Boulder City High School in 1999.
“Any kind of recognition we get for our veterans is great,” said Bob Garlow, past commander of the post.
Garlow is one of its charter members and said the group decided to name the post after Commons because they learned of his death the day of their meeting. He said he did not know Commons but has become friends with his family since then.
The Purple Heart medal was instituted in 1932 and is awarded to members of the U.S. military who are wounded by an instrument of war from an enemy.
On May 9, SB331 was moved to Gov. Steve Sisolak’s office and is awaiting his signature. In addition to renaming I-11, the bill also requires the director of the Department of Transportation to put up and maintain suitable markers on the highway and allows the director to accept funds to defray the cost of the markers.
Another way, Shane Patton’s friends and family honor his sacrifice is through the Shane Patton Foundation, a nonprofit organization that gives scholarships to high school seniors.
“We’re extremely thankful for the people of Boulder City, the donations they’ve given us, the support they’ve given us,” Chase Patton said. “We couldn’t do it without them.”
VFW Post 36 also gives out scholarships to Boulder City High School seniors and recently presented ones for the 16th year in a row.
Shane Patton was one of 11 Navy SEALs and eight U.S. Army Special Operations aviators killed during Operation Red Wings in Afghanistan. The story of the battle was told in the book “Lone Survivor: The Eyewitness Account of Operation Red Wings and the Lost Heroes of SEAL Team 10” by survivor Marcus Luttrell and its subsequent movie, “Lone Survivor.”
Commons was killed in action in Gardez, Afghanistan, during Operation Anaconda in 2002. His helicopter went down during a rescue mission. He is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.
Contact reporter Celia Shortt Goodyear at email@example.com or at 702-586-9401. Follow her on Twitter @csgoodyear.