Senator Gardner Honors Lt. Col. Thomas Belkofer with a Memorial Highway Naming
By Bill Perry
COLUMBUS – “He gave his life for a grateful nation,” said Senator Randy Gardner in making his case to members of the Senate Transportation, Commerce and Workforce Committee, urging support for SB 134, to name a section of highway in honor of Lt. Col. Thomas Belkofer, near Perrysburg, Ohio.
In his testimony to explain his decision, Gardner noted that it is not his practice to seek out this type of legislation. “When I receive a compelling request to honor a fallen member of our military, I then consider going forward in the manner I have done with Lt. Col. Belkofer and SB 134.”
Lt. Col Belkofer died May 18, 2010, in a Taliban attack on a NATO convoy in Kabul Afghanistan. He was 44 and from Perrysburg. “At the time of the attack, it was the first time in the war that three officers of the rank of lieutenant colonel and colonel were killed in one incident,” Gardner said. Lt. Col Belkofer was assigned to Headquarters, 10th Mountain Division, while serving in Operation Enduring Freedom.
The Military Times reported at the time of his death that a suicide bomb attack “killed five American soldiers, the highest number killed in a single attack in seven months. A colonel and two lieutenant colonels were among those killed in the attack, marking the first time during the Afghanistan war that three officers of those ranks were killed in a single incident. The attack also killed a Canadian Colonel and more than a dozen Afghan civilians,” the Military Times report confirmed.
Senator Gardner’s bill designates the Lt Col Thomas P. Belkofer Memorial Highway, near Perrysburg and specifically the eastbound and westbound lanes of State Route 795, between the intersection of that route with Simmons Road and the intersection of that route and Tracy Road, in Wood County. If approved, SB 134 would authorize the Director of Transportation to erect suitable markers along the highway indicating its name.
Who was Lt. Col. Belkofer?
He was a hero and patriot. But also a son, a husband, a father and a brother. He represented what is best about Ohio. As his obituary stated and Senator Gardner included in his testimony, Lt. Col. Belkofer played by the rules. He was born and raised in Ohio, graduated from Rossford High School in 1983 where he played football and was a standout wrestler. He attended a state college and earned his bachelor’s degree from Bowling Green State University in 1992. BGSU is where he made a commitment to his military career, serving in the Ohio Army National Guard before signing up for the ROTC program at Bowling Green. He was commissioned into the Field Artillery as a Distinguished Military Graduate.
Those close to him confirm that Lt. Col. Belkofer led a life of honor and he was known as a man who loved his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, his family, his country, his Army and his beloved Ohio State Buckeyes, which he proclaimed wherever he was stationed. In Afghanistan in 2005, he could be found awake in the middle of the night so that he wouldn't miss a Buckeye football game.
Lt. Col. Belkofer was an 18-year veteran of the United States Army, which included a 13-month combat deployment in Afghanistan in 2005. His leadership record was extensive and impressive.
His operational troop leading assignments included Company Fire Support Officer, Platoon Leader and Battalion Adjutant for 3rd Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery at Fort Hood, Texas; and Battalion Fire Support Officer and Battery Commander for Alpha Battery, 3rd Battalion, 29th Field Artillery.
Lt. Col. Belkofer’s leadership duties included Fort Carson, Colorado, Fort Meade, Maryland, The Pentagon, Vicenza, Italy, and most recently, Fort Drum, New York. He was deployed to Afghanistan in 2005-2006 as Resource Manager for Office of Security Cooperation in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
In his career Lt. Col. Belkofer was awarded the Legion of Merit, Bronze Star, Purple Heart, Meritorious Service Award, Army Commendation Medal, Army Achievement Medal, Joint Meritorious Unit Award, Army Reserve Component Achievement Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Global War on Terror Service Ribbon, Humanitarian Service Medal, Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Ribbon, Air Assault Badge, Parachutist Badge, the Army Staff Identification Badge, NATO Medal, and Combat Action Badge.
Lt. Col. Belkofer left behind his wife, Margo, a former soldier who rose to the rank of captain before resigning to care for their two daughters.
Testimony before the Senate Transportation, Commerce and Workforce Committee, May 31, 2017
Military Times: Honor the Fallen
SB 134 Analysis