Bridge dedication honors local pilot

July 28, 2013

CHAPMANVILLE — A local pilot and Navy veteran was honored on June 15 with a memorial bridge dedication in his name.

Senators Art Kirkendoll, Ron Stollings, John Unger and Robert Plymale had nominated that the bridge on the southbound lanes of U.S. 119 at Trace Fork Exit be dedicated to the memory of Edsel Carl Varney, who was a resident on Trace Fork. Varney was killed when his plane crashed in the mountain near the old Taplin Airport in 1977.

The resolution reads:

“Navy Lieutenant, Junior Grade, Edsel Carl Varney Memorial Bridge”.

“Whereas, Lieutenant Varney was born on January 25, 1922, and passed away on May 6, 1977; and

“Whereas, Lieutenant Varney graduated from Chapmanville High School in 1941; and

“Whereas, Lieutenant Varney enlisted in the United States Naval Reserves on November 5, 1942, under the V-5 Naval Aviation Cadet Program, entering active service on February 11, 1943, and was officially released from active duty on November 7, 1945; and

“Whereas, Lieutenant Varney flew twenty-one missions during the Iwo Jima operations, including almost seventy hours of combat time with twenty-two carrier landings on the Makin Island; and

“Whereas, Lieutenant Varney flew thirty-one missions during the Okinawa operations, including almost one hundred and fourteen hours of combat time with thirty carrier landings, all but one on the Makin Island while the last one during combat operations was on the Savo Island; and

“Whereas, Lieutenant Varney had forty-three total catapults and seventy-eight carrier landings on five carriers: The USS Sable, the USS Saratoga, the USS Bataan, the USS Makin Island and the USS Savo Island; and

“Whereas, Lieutenant Varney was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, Air Medal, multiple Gold Stars, American Campaign Medal, Asiatic and Pacific Campaign Medal, WW II Victory Medal, Philippine Presidential Unit Citation and Philippine Liberation Medal; and

“Whereas, Lieutenant Varney married Aleen “Pat” Williamson on November 8, 1947, raised five children and had eight grandchildren and six great grandchildren; and

“Whereas, Following his service in the Navy, Lieutenant Varney was a pilot instructor and at one point all state troopers in Logan knew how to fly; and

“Whereas, Lieutenant Varney was a PTA President, was very involved with his children and their activities and was the high school band president while his children were in the band and raised money for uniforms and instruments; and

“Whereas, When returning home from several days of work Lieutenant Varney would fly his plane low near his house, so that his children would know that he would be home very shortly; and

“Whereas, Lieutenant Varney was a Mason and spearheaded the project to get an airport in Logan; and

“Whereas, It is fitting to honor Lieutenant Varney for his commitment, dedication and service to his country and his state; therefore…”

Attending the dedication was Varney’s children, Tonya Sue Compton and her husband Bert of Chapmanville, Nancy York of Milton, Terry Varney of Huntington, Carrie Huff of Hurricane and Edsel Scott Varney of Lynchburg, Va., and Senators Art Kirkendoll and Ron Stollings and Delegate Rupie Phillips.