Loncki was killed in Iraq in 2007
Gov. John Carney, Delaware Department of Transportation Secretary Jennifer Cohan, Delaware's congressional delegation, and military and veterans’ leaders gathered Friday afternoon at Dover Air Force Base to dedicate the bridge over Route 1 to Senior Airman Elizabeth Loncki, the first Delaware woman killed in Operation Iraqi Freedom.
This Sunday, Oct. 14, will be Loncki's 35th birthday.
The bridge is between the base’s main gate and its housing area.
Loncki, then 23, died Jan. 7, 2007, after her four-man explosive ordnance disposal team was targeted by a remote-controlled car bomb near Baghdad, Iraq.
Two other members of the team, TSgt. Timothy R. Weiner, 35, and SrA Daniel B. Miller Jr, 24, were killed in the blast. All were assigned to the 775 Civil Engineering Squadron at Hill AFB, Ogden, Utah.
At the time of their deaths, the team had carried out 192 missions to deactivate bombs and other explosives and had cleared 129 of the devices.
A New Castle native, Loncki attended St. Peter the Apostle grade school and in 2001 graduated from Padua Academy in Wilmington. She briefly attended the University of Arizona before enlisting in the Air Force in September 2003.
Known as someone with a competitive spirit, Loncki enjoyed swimming and listening to rock music and played softball, basketball, and volleyball. She underwent training as an explosive ordnance disposal technician as a way of working against stereotypes that EOD work was a man’s domain.
Friends remembered she once did 51 pushups in a competition against her father, who did 50.
Congresswoman Lisa Blunt-Rochester credited Dover AFB Staff Sgt. Johny “JJ” Hargrove as being the impetus behind efforts to name the bridge in Loncki’s honor. A fellow EOD technician who had never met Loncki, Hargrove said he felt providing a permanent monument in Loncki’s name was an appropriate way to memorialize her.
“We’re here now because we wanted something to remember her by, something that you’ll see every day when people pass back and forth over the bridge, they’ll say, ‘Wow, she was from here and that she was one of us,” he said.
Members of Loncki’s extended family unveiled a sign memorializing the fallen airman; similar signs will be placed on the bridge itself.