MENOMINEE — A portion of U.S. 41 will soon be re-christened in honor of a local man killed during the Korean War.
Samuel R. Costello was a high school football player in Menominee when the Korean War broke out. When Costello graduated from high school in 1949 he volunteered to join the U.S. Air Force. He was trained and deployed as a corporal in the 13th Air Force Equipment Squadron. This squadron was charged with the planning, execution and assessing operations taking place in the Pacific.
Costello was killed in a plane crash on Dec. 19, 1950. The plane, which was traveling from Clark Air Force Base, located about half an hour from Manila, to the island of Okinawa crashed into the Philippine mountain, Mount Tabayoc.
According to Samuel’s nephew, Mike “Cozzy” Costello, it took several months to recover his uncle’s and his comrades’ remains. This was due to the remote nature of the mountain and thick forest in the region. After several months, Samuel’s body was returned to his family and was buried at Riverside Cemetery in Menominee in the May of 1951. This story, while sad, is not uncommon.
And for most families the memory of Sam’s story would be remembered as sad, but with a loving fondness. Someone to be referenced in stories of childhood and mourned for a generation or two before fading into obscurity. But that is not the case with Samuel.
Samuel’s nephews, Cozzy and Jeffrey Lamont along with their wives, Karen Costello and Cheryl Lamont, have spent the past two years attempting to have a section of U.S. 41 named after the uncle that none of them had a chance to meet.
During Mike’s daughter’s wedding in September of 2018, the cousins began to talk about a way to honor their uncle. To ensure that the memory of Sam would endure beyond their generation.
The Costellos and Lamonts chose a section of U.S. 41 as a memorial for several reasons. But the main reason the highway was chosen because it was the place where both Costello’s and Lamont’s grandmother, and Sam’s mother, Eleanor Costello, was killed in a car accident on the road on Nov. 14, 1939.
While the campaign to rename the road faced several roadblocks, the support of Michigan State Sen. Ed McBroom, R-Vulcan, and State Rep. Beau LaFave, R-Iron Mountain, helped to move the bill from local committees to the state senate with little change or interference.
On Sept. 17, Michigan’s Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed House Bill 4228, which officially designates a section of U.S. 41 as Samuel R. Costello Memorial Highway, starting in Menominee, Michigan, and ending when the road enters the Village of Daggett.
While the road has been renamed, the official date for the new road signage to be installed has yet to be set. “Due to COVID we can’t really nail down a date yet, and once the frost comes in installation won’t be possible,” Cozzy said.
Cozzy thanked everyone who put in the work to rename the highway. “Everyone has been great and really supportive,” he said. According to Cozzy, they hope to install the new road signage sometime around Memorial Day weekend next year.