Photo Information

The bronze plaque honoring Private First Class Neil Weintraub rests on the side of ‘The PFC Neil William Weintraub Memorial Bridge where it is mounted. The bridge was re-dedicated to Weintraub on November 14, in Bensalem, Pennsylvania. The ceremony was held to remember PFC Neil William Weintraub, a Marine who was killed in action during the Vietnam War on top of Hill 512 near Khe Sanh. (U.S. Marine Corps Courtesy Photo/Released)

Photo by Courtesy Photo

Vietnam Marine from Bensalem honored during bridge re-dedication

23 Nov 2015 | Cpl. Matt Myers 1st Marine Corps District

On June 22, 1968, American service members in Vietnam were engaged in the Tet Offensive. Marines from 2nd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, were providing covering fire from the top of Hill 512 near Khe Sanh as Marines below them were fighting their way into the enemy perimeter. During that time, the Marines on Hill 512 attracted a large enemy artillery assault. That artillery barrage left some Marines wounded and others killed in action. One of those Marines killed was 18-year-old Private First Class Neil William Weintraub.

To honor the Bensalem, Pennsylvania, native, in 1969 a bridge in his hometown was named, ‘The PFC Neil William Weintraub Memorial Bridge.’ Recently, when the bridge was closed down to be worked on, some concerned citizens took action to ensure it was re-dedicated upon its opening.

“When we heard the bridge was closed, Neil’s friend George Delia, who is a Vietnam combat veteran, contacted Lee Cannon, who is also a Vietnam combat veteran, and me,” said Brenda Hecklin, one of the event organizers. “He wanted to have a re-dedication ceremony for him so he could honor his service and sacrifice. It was important to us because it was the only bridge that crossed over the Pennsylvania Turnpike named for a veteran, so by extension it also honors all veterans.”

On November 14, more than 250 family, friends and community members gathered for the ceremony. Fire engines from the Union and Nottingham Fire Departments flanked the bridge with their ladders raised while Newport Fire Department members rendered their salutes. Bagpipes played, followed by an official Marine Corps Color Guard presentation of the Colors and the playing of the National Anthem. Speeches were given by family members and state officials, after which there was a fly over of an U.S. Coast Guard HH-65 Dolphin helicopter and a 21 gun salute.

“He will never be forgotten,” said Hecklin, a Montgomery County, Pennsylvania native. “This bridge keeps his memory alive, and stands as a symbol of remembrance to all who see it.”

One of the guest speakers, Pennsylvania State Senator Tommy Tomlinson, remembered Neil as an all-American boy.

“He was a little bit younger than me when we were kids, but we grew up in the same neighborhood, and you just don’t forget a guy like Neil,” said Tomlinson, a Newtown, Pennsylvania native. “He wasn’t a real big kid – we had a saying when we played Football that sometimes you had to play 20 pounds more than you were. Well, Neil played bigger than he was, and he fought for his country bigger than he was.”

As the guest speakers told their stories, the U.S. and Marine Corps Flags stood in the center of the bridge near the edge where cars below could see them. As vehicles below drove by, many honked their horns to show their support of the ceremony.

“For me to look out and see everyone coming out, and all the support we are getting, it’s a good feeling,” said Tomlinson. “It’s been more than 50 years and so many of us still remember Neil. I think that speaks as to the type of guy he was. He was a real hero.”

Today, the bridge is open and anyone crossing it can stop to see the bronze plaque mounted to its side. Those visiting the Vietnam Memorial in Washington D.C. can also see Neil’s name on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall. His name is located on Panel 55W, Line 19.