The Iowa DOT is performing roadwork on federal and state highways around Iowa, including projects in the Perry area.
Iowa Highway 141, including part of the George Soumas Memorial Highway, is undergoing repairs “between County Road P46 near Dawson and U.S. Highway 169 near Bouton. According to the Iowa DOT website, “The roadway is reduced to one lane due to road construction work. A pilot car is in operation. Look out for flaggers. There is a width limit in effect. Width limit 16’0″.”
The hours of roadwork are from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekdays and Saturday, the DOT said, and the work is expected to last until Aug. 29 at about 3 p.m.
U.S. Army Capt. George P. Soumas was a South Dakota native and World War II hero who grew up in Perry. Soumas was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross by U.S. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt for extraordinary heroism while serving with the 14th Tank Battalion, 9th Armored Division in action against enemy forces March 7, 1945, in successfully taking the Remagen Bridge across the Rhine River to allow Allied Forces to cross the River and enter Germany.
The citation accompanying Soumas’ Distinguished Service Cross medal reads:
The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress July 9, 1918, takes pleasure in presenting the Distinguished Service Cross to Captain (Armor) George P. Soumas (ASN: 0-1011146), United States Army, for extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations against an armed enemy while serving with the 14th Tank Battalion, 3d Armored Division, in action against enemy forces on 7 March 1945, in Germany. Upon reaching the Rhine River, Captain Soumas placed his tanks in commanding positions and, while exposed to intense hostile fire, directed effective tank fire upon enemy emplacements on the opposite bank, thus covering the crossing of the Ludendorf railroad bridge by friendly forces. That night, despite the extreme darkness and the fact that the strength of the bridge was unknown, Captain Soumas dismounted form his tank, and in the face of heavy artillery, small arms, and 20-mm. gun fire, personally led his company of tanks across the span. By his personal bravery and courageous leadership, Captain Soumas made a substantial contribution to the exploitation of the bridgehead, thus reflecting great credit upon himself and the military service.
Soumas returned to Perry after the war and became a successful lawyer and later a judge. He worked as chairperson of a community volunteer committee to encourage the widening of Iowa Highway 141 from a two-lane highway to a four-lane highway. The effort finally succeeded, and the four-lane “bypass” was completed in 1997.
Soumas died in 1994, and the cities along Iowa Highway 141 between Granger and Perry petitioned the Iowa DOT to rename the roadway in his honor. The highway was renamed the George Soumas Memorial Highway in early 2013.
U.S. Highway 169 is also undergoing construction southward from Iowa Highway 141 to Minburn.
“The roadway is reduced to one lane due to road construction work,” according to the Iowa DOT website. “Look out for flaggers. A pilot car is in operation. There is a width limit in effect. Width limit 16’0″. From 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekdays and Saturday. Until August 29, 2019, at about 3 p.m.”