Dead aviator honored at Lagoon Park Trail opening
A four-year project to open a 5-mile multi-use trail through Lagoon Park in Montgomery has been completed.
In a ceremony on Monday, the last part of the trail was dedicated to a fallen Gunter Annex airman who dedicated a lot of time to the project.
Senior aviator William Hunter Kirkpatrick, 25, worked for Gunter’s lifecycle management center and led the compensation efforts. He died in November from surgery.
Kirkpatrick’s mother, Carole Kirkpatrick, received a marble replica of the plaque that marks the head of Hunter’s Trail, a quarter-mile cross-country loop that Kirkpatrick personally oversaw.
“It’s an honor for our family. You only have so many opportunities to honor someone and this will probably be one of the last times we can honor Hunter for something he has done, so I am grateful for this opportunity, ”says Carole Kirkpatrick.
Kirkpatrick, an outdoor enthusiast, husband and father, devoted much of his free time to the trail on site and at home. In addition, he organized 350 fellow Airmen to help. Since the start of the project, hundreds of Air Force students studying at Maxwell Air Force Base and Gunter have volunteered their weekends to help clear the trails by chopping trees, raking, cleaning up trails. debris and more.
For its commanding officer, Master Sgt. Gregory Bush, Kirkpatrick was a natural fit.
“We were looking for someone to take over the leadership of our unit and Airmen Kirkpatrick was one of the first to raise his hand,” said Bush. “He did a remarkable job and it is unfortunate that he cannot be with us here today.”
Without their help and that of others at the Maxwell Officer Training School, the project would have failed, said Volunteer Trail Construction Manager Will O’Connor.
“Yes, we planned it, but the work was done entirely by other volunteers and in particular by the military,” O’Connor said. “A significant portion was led by Airman Kirkpatrick who went out on weekends, outside of our normal work days with other volunteers.”
“We appreciate the time he spent alone, not only here, but at home learning what we were doing so that he could help us lead others,” added O’Connor.
One of the Air Force’s core values is service and it is encouraged among all Airmen, said Lt. Col. Leonard Boothe, who serves at LCMC.
“Volunteering is definitely about service first and excellence in everything you do,” Boothe said. “Hunter, for his part, was instrumental in both directing Airmen and delivering leadership projects. He was dedicated to this trial and spent a lot of time and effort here.”
Montgomery Mayor Todd Strange, Councilor Richard Bollinger and other representatives from City Council and the Chamber of Commerce joined Maxwell’s agents for the opening.
“This is a perfect example of a rapprochement between government and the private sector … business after business, business after business has provided materiel and other resources and the military has rendered an impeccable service,” Strange said. “It will be for everyone in the river area to come and use.”
In the near future, the city hopes to use the area for national and regional competitive racing and bike races for children and adults.
Ed Grimes, has been with the project from the start as chair of the Lagoon Park Trail Committee. It was great to finally see it all come together.
“It’s been over four years so it’s fantastic… we didn’t know if we were going to open it, but it got to a point where we knew we would open, maybe not as fast as we wanted. , but it would be done, ”Grimes said.
Grimes added that the park still has room to expand.
The trailhead is at Pete Peterson Lodge in Lagoon Park. The project began with a $ 100,000 grant from the Alabama Department of Community and Economic Affairs.