The sister of the late Trooper Robert P. Perry Jr. helps hold a Statehouse resolution that calls for honoring her fallen brother. (Photos by Tyler Fedor)
The stretch of U.S. 1 between Interstate 20 and the town of Lexington was officially named Wednesday night after one of South Carolina’s fallen Highway Patrol troopers.
“Today’s ceremony is not just about honoring Trooper Perry’s legacy, but to ensure that his legacy is remembered,” said Col. Christopher Williamson of the S.C. Highway Patrol. “This highway sign will forever serve as a handy reminder of a law enforcement officer’s role in preserving peace and bringing order to our communities.”
The stretch will be known as the “Trooper First Class Robert P. Perry Jr. Memorial Highway.” Perry died in 1987 after losing control of his vehicle while chasing a motorcycle on an unpaved road in Williamsburg County, where he patrolled.
Perry was the 31st of 51 troopers to lose their lives while patrolling. He served the S.C. Highway Patrol for four years.
“It’s great,” Robert Perry Mangum said, Perry’s nephew. “It makes me proud to be a lifelong citizen of this state. It’s been a long time coming.”
Although he was born after Perry’s death, he said he learned about him through the trooper’s sons.
“There’s so many stories that people have told, that he just was a prankster, mischievous,” Mangum said. “But he loves people hard, you know. He loves people, loved being around people. And that’s a big part of why he was in the highway patrol, to be with people.”
Members of Perry’s family, the S.C. Department of Transportation, the S.C. Highway Patrol and other families of troopers who lost their lives on the job attended the ceremony at Lexington Town Hall.
“It’s great to have close to quote-unquote, family, that shows up for each other,” Mangum said. “Because there’s not many people that know how it feels.”
The S.C. Highway Patrol reached out to the family with the idea of the memorial highway 18 months ago, Mangum said. The resolution to name the highway after him was introduced by Sen. Katrina Shealy, D-Lexington, in the S.C. Statehouse. Mangum said that particular stretch of highway was chosen for the honor by his mother, Perry’s sister, because some of the trooper’s family live nearby.
Williamson said Mangum’s mother received letters from troopers in the S.C. Highway Patrol after Perry’s death “that said what a great person he was.” She still gets letters to this day.
“Even though they may not know him, they will know of his service and his sacrifice that he made to the citizens of South Carolina and to the state,” Williamson said.