Bridge Renamed to Honor American Hero
On August 19, dignitaries gathered on the Buck Karnes Bridge in Knoxville, TN for a ceremony to rename the bridge the James Buck Karnes Medal of Honor Recipient Bridge. In 1933, Sergeant Karnes was the first Knoxville resident to be awarded the prestigious medal. When the bridge was first named, it included his Medal of Honor distinction, but was left off of the new sign when the bridge was remodeled in the 1980s.
Sergeant James “Buck” Karnes received the medal for his courageous acts in combat during World War I, when he and a fellow solider captured a German machine gun nest in an onslaught of gunfire, killing 3 and capturing 7 of the enemy and their guns. Their heroic actions saved their unit.
The renaming of the bridge was prompted by retired Staff Sergeant Carl Cook who, after hearing that the 2014 Congressional Medal of Honor Society Convention would be held in Knoxville, decided to contact Convention CEO, Joe Thompson to rally support for renaming the bridge. He had the support of many veterans who felt the omission of The Medal of Honor distinction on the sign contributed to a lack of awareness of the courageous acts of Sergeant Karnes, which earned him the highest distinction the United States can bestow on a military member.
"It is important to us to make sure all of our veterans, especially our Medal of Honor Recipients, receive proper recognition," said Convention CEO, Joe Thompson. "It will be great to have that sign replaced before all the Medal of Honor recipients come to town," said Thompson. "We're very proud of the fact he [Karnes] was a Medal of Honor recipient and want to be able to point out that fact when driving people around when they are here for the convention."
Thanks to the efforts of Sergeant Cook and the 2014 Congressional Medal of Honor Society Convention, the 55,000 vehicles that cross the James Buck Karnes Medal of Honor Recipient Bridge daily will remember this son of Tennessee as the great American hero that he was.