ELLERBE — More than a dozen current and former State Troopers came out to honor a former Highway Patrol commander who had a bridge dedicated in his honor Monday.
The Millstone Road overpass bridge, which crosses over Interstate 73/74, now bares the name of the late Col. Jack Cardwell, who once called Ellerbe home.
His sons, Jack Jr. and Bob Cardwell, were on-hand to unveil a replica of the sign at the Ellerbe Lions Club, joined by current Commander Col. Glenn McNeill, state Sen. Tom McInnis and Pat Molamphy, Division 8 representative on the state Board of Transportation.
McInnis, at the request of T.K. Thrower, was responsible for introducing special legislation in the General Assembly to have the bridge named.
“People don’t get recognized if they don’t do anything,” McInnis said. “There’s three kinds of folks in the world — there are those who watch things happen, folks who make things happen and those that don’t know what happened. And I can tell you, Jack Cardwell made things happen.”
The senator said there are procedures and policies in place today “that were founded on the principles and the knowledge and the skills” of Cardwell.
“His legacy is everlasting and will be so in the annals of time,” McInnis said.
Cardwell joined the U.S. Army while a still a senior at Ellerbe High School near the end of World War II along with classmates Bob and Bill McIntosh, according to Jack Cardwell Jr. The serial number on his dog tags even fell between those of the twin brothers.
He served during the occupation of Japan and received his high school diploma when he came home.
Cardwell later joined the N.C. Highway Patrol and moved his family around the state as he moved up through the ranks.
“In order to do this job … we have to have loving, supporting family members to support us,” McNeill told the crowd. “Families are the ones who are uprooted when we receive a promotion or a transfer. It’s the families who are at home when we have to work late … because we’re in the business of keeping people … safe on our roadways.”
Cardwell was first stationed in St. Pauls in Robeson County. While living in Parkton, Bob Cardwell recalled, a neighboring little girl would run from his imposing 6-foot 5-inch figure because he was “a giant.”
From there they moved to “Little” Washington in Beaufort County, where Jack Cardwell Jr. said there was another little girl frightened of their father.
After serving in the east, the state sent Cardwell to the Northwestern University Traffic Institute while the family stayed in Ellerbe.
Then it was back toward the coast with a station in Elizabeth City, then Newton-Conover in the foothills and then to Cary.
“We moved a lot,” Bob Cardwell said. “Back in the old days, to be promoted that’s what you had to do.”
Both sons followed in their father’s footsteps, with Jack Jr. joining the military and Bob serving with the Moore County Sheriff’s Office for 30 years.
Cardwell was appointed commander by Gov. Jim Martin in 1985 and served in that position until 1989.
One of the former troopers who served during Cardwell’s tenure as commander was Hamlet Mayor Bill Bayless. At the time, Bayless was also in Raleigh in logistics.
“I saw him on a regular basis, several times a week,” Bayless said. “He was very good to work for.”
Cardwell died in 1999.
He is the second former Ellerbe resident to have an overpass named in his honor.
Last year, through the urging of the Mineral Springs Improvement Council, a bridge was named after former N.C. Supreme Court Chief Justice Henry Frye, an Ellerbe native.