The newly named bridge brings 77th Special Forces Way across State Road 85 near Duke Field.

CRESTVIEW — The late Air Force Brig. Gen. Thomas "Mark" Stogsdill, a former commander of the 919th Special Operations Wing at Duke Field, was remembered Wednesday as a man bound by duty and honor during a ceremony to mark the naming of a local overpass in his memory.

"It brings to him such honor," Stogsdill's widow, Jan, told the dozens of state and local officials and military personnel gathered at Central Baptist Church as a sign naming the "Brigadier General Thomas 'Mark' Stogsdill Memorial Overpass" was unveiled.

The newly named bridge brings 77th Special Forces Way across State Road 85 near Duke Field.

"It's beyond humbling," Jan Stogsdill said as she and the couple's two daughters, Sarah and Emma, accepted the honor on behalf of the late general.

Asked following the unveiling how Stogsdill would have reacted to the honor, Jan and her daughters agreed that he would have been embarrassed, but deeply touched, by the naming of the overpass in his honor.

"He would be like, 'There's no need to do that,' " Sarah said.

But, Jan continued, her husband would also be "incredibly honored at this incredible gift."

Brig. Gen. Stogsdill died in September of last year after dealing with a rare form of cancer for a number of years. He was 68 years old.

Stogsdill spent six years on active duty in the Air Force, from 1969 to 1975, before joining the Air Force Reserve in 1975. He assumed command of the 919th SOW in 1998, and is remembered for his leadership after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks on the United States. The 919th SOW went through several combat deployments in the wake of the attacks and became one of the most highly decorated units in the Air Force Reserve.

Stogsdill retired from the Air Force Reserve in 2006 after serving as commander of the 94th Airlift Wing at Georgia's Dobbins Air Reserve Base, and returned to Northwest Florida. He was an active member of the Crestview and Emerald Coast Military Affairs Councils, and also served on the board for the Fisher House, which provides resources for military families during serious medical treatment and physical and occupational therapy.

"My life is better for having known Mark," Okaloosa County Commission Chairwoman Carolyn Ketchel, a friend of the Stogsdill family, said at Wednesday's unveiling.

Also speaking Wednesday was Wayne Harris, a former Okaloosa County commissioner who was instrumental in getting the state Legislature to name the overpass in honor of Stogsdill.

"Think of it as Mark Stogsdill's bridge to our community," Harris told the crowd.

State Rep. Mel Ponder said the naming of the overpass was a chance for the state to honor a man who lived a life committed to honor.

"He was duty- and honor-bound in every aspect of his life," Ponder said. "Honor guided him in everything that he did."

Maj. Gen. Michael Plehn, deputy commander of the Air Force Special Operations Command, also was on hand for the sign's unveiling. Plehn called the naming of the overpass "a fitting tribute to such a revered leader." Plehn went on to suggest that, given Stogsdill's work in the Air Force, it might be more appropriate to call the overpass a "flyover," because, like Stogsdill, "it connects and it overcomes."

"You could count on Mark Stogsdill to be rock-steady in any circumstance," Plehn said.

Don Gaetz, a past president of the Florida Senate who has long been active in local civic affairs, also said it would be more appropriate to call the overpass a "flyover" in recognition of Stogsdill's service.

"Call it a flyover," he said. "That's what I'd prefer to call it for Gen. Stogsdill."

In other remarks, Crestview Mayor David Cadle called Stogsdill "a true friend of the city." Cadle also read a "resolution of respect" from the Crestview City Council remembering that Stogsdill "selflessly gave of his time to help others."

Stogsdill also received a special remembrance from retired Air Force Lt. Col. Sandy Meyer. Meyer told the crowd that even as Stogsdill rose through the ranks of the Air Force, he always considered himself a navigator, one of his early specialties in the service. An author fo children's books, Meyer said he was moved by Stogsdill's life to write a poem in his honor titled "The Navigator (for Brig. Gen. Mark Stogsdill)."

The poem, which Meyer recited Wednesday, reads in part: "Shine on Navigator, shine on where you are,/ We'll watch you in wonder out there in the stars."