A portion of a Michigan highway is being named to honor two military members who died in the line of duty.
Gov. Rick Snyder signed legislation Monday designating part of M-15 in Vassar as "Specialist 5 Michael May and Corporal Chris Esckelson Memorial Highway." Snyder says it's "a positive way to honor their sacrifice and service."
Snyder's office says Spc. 5th Class Michael Fredric May was part of a Special Forces team conducting reconnaissance in Cambodia in 1969 when he was killed. He entered the U.S. Army in 1967 after attending Western Michigan University.
Cpl. Christopher E. Esckelson joined the Marine Corps in 2002 after graduating from Vassar High School. He died in 2006 while conducting combat operations in Iraq's Anbar province.
"It's hard to talk about still," said Mitzi Hill, Esckelson's mom.
Hill found out her son died while she was at work. She said she knew bad news was coming.
"It was either going to be my mother or my son. And it was my son. And thankfully they were both there with me, drove me home," Hill said.
Earlier this week, Hill learned part of M-15 would be named after her son and May.
"It's an honor for Christopher to share that with a Vietnam vet," Hill said.
Doris Kennard is May's mother.
"He was a good kid," Kennard said.
Even though it's been almost 50 years, the pain is still fresh.
"It's hard to believe, hard to accept," Kennard said.
Now May and Esckelson will be together forever in Vassar history. It wouldn't have been possible without the help of a member of the Michigan State Police.
"I thought this would be an honorable and fitting way to memorialize the service to our country," MSP Lt. Stephen Sipes said.
Last summer, Sipes reached out to local lawmakers. His efforts paid off when Snyder signed legislation naming the highway after the duo.
"I'm excited that it finally came into fruition," Sipes said.
The signs for the servicemen are expected to be up by June.
"I'm sure he would be amazed," Kennard said.
"He would be honored and humbled also to be chosen for something like that," Hill said.
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