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Highway to be dedicated to 1970 Red Cross worker

Tribune Chronicle / Bob Coupland The Virginia E. ‘‘Ginny’’ Kirsch Memorial Highway will be dedicated 1 p.m. Sunday in Brookfield. Signs have been posted on state Route 7 when coming into and leaving Brookfield. Taking part in getting the signs are Robert Marino Sr. of Niles, a legislative liaison, and State Sen. Sean O’Brien, D-Bazetta, who will be at the dedication. They stand by the sign at the intersection of state Routes 7 and 82.

BROOKFIELD — Brookfield native Virginia E. ”Ginny” Kirsch was serving with the Red Cross ”Donut Dollie” program Aug. 16, 1970, when she was murdered in her quarters at the 25th U.S. Infantry Division base camp in the Cu Chi district of Saigon, Vietnam.

To honor and remember Kirsch for her service to the country, a section of state Route 7 between U.S. Route 62 and state Route 82 will be dedicated to her at 1 p.m. Sunday at the Brookfield village green. The section will be named Virginia E. ”Ginny” Kirsch Memorial Highway. Event organizers said two signs on Route 7 already have been placed.

Kirsch, a Brookfield High School and Miami (Ohio) University graduate, served with the American Red Cross in Vietnam for short time before her death.

State Sen. Sean O’Brien, D-Bazetta, introduced an amendment to House Bill 26 to name the highway for her. Ohio Gov. John Kasich signed the bill in March.

Robert Marino Sr. of Niles, veterans affairs liaison for O’Brien, said Kirsch was among five Red Cross volunteers who died in Vietnam.

”There was only one other woman who died in Vietnam from the state of Ohio. She was Army nurse 1st Lt. Sharon Ann Lane from Canton. She died in a mortar attack on June 8, 1969,” Marino said.

Marino said Kirsch’s name was brought to O’Brien’s attention when the first Women Veterans Bridge on West Market Street at Mahoning Avenue was dedicated in Warren last fall.

”Her name was brought up at that event and a pamphlet had information about her being killed in Vietnam while serving with the Red Cross,” Marino said.

”She dedicated her life to serving our country by going to Vietnam and volunteering, serving there and paying the ultimate sacrifice,” O’Brien said.

Marino said a marker was posted by the American Red Cross in Washington, D.C., with her name listed among others who died during the war.

”They were known as Donut Dollies. The did not fight in the military, but went over to support the troops,” Marino said.

He said this will be the first road in Ohio dedicated to a Donut Dollie and is believed to be the only one in the nation named for a Red Cross volunteer.

”We are honored to be part of something like this,” Marino said.

Serafina Lee of Brookfield, who has compiled information on Kirsch and has been in contact with her family and friends from California, Minnesota and Georgia, said family is expected to arrive in the area Saturday.

”We are expecting quite a crowd for Sunday. Ginny was one of seven children and her brothers and sisters are going to be speaking. We have 60 seats planned for her family and friends,” Lee said.

In addition to her relatives, local veterans organizations, local Red Cross representatives and Miami University representatives also will be in attendance.

The ceremony will include placing of a wreath by her family, presentation of proclamations by state officials and a flag presentation.

A reception will follow the dedication ceremony at Yankee Lake Ballroom.

bcoupland@tribtoday.com

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