By Jesse Wood
March 26, 2014. Watauga County held a ceremony dedicating the U.S. 421 Bridge over the South Fork of the New River to Watauga County Sheriff Deputy William Mast, Jr., who died in the line of duty on the morning of July 26, 2012. He was only 23, leaving behind a young wife and a son who, at the time, had yet to be born.
The ceremony was held at the Perkinsville Baptist Church because of inclement weather and featured remarks from officials, an invocation, presentation of colors, the bridge dedication and unveiling of the sign. A recording of the ceremony can be heard here.
Among those who spoke was Watauga County Board of Commissioners Chair Nathan Miller.
“The law means nothing – it’s just a piece of paper – unless we have a special class of citizen willing to give up their time and put their lives on the line to enforce that rule of law,” Miller said, adding that everyone owes the many people in law enforcement a “debt of gratitude that we will never be able to repay.”
“And sadly we know that sometimes those law enforcement officers give their lives to protect us and our society,” Miller said, referring most recently to U.S. Forest Service Law Enforcement Officer Jason Crisp who was killed in the line of duty in Burke County earlier this month.
“And that’s of course why we are here today. Mast sacrificed his life for us,” Miller continued. “There is no greater sacrifice.”
William’s widow, Paige Mast, thanked the community for the support over the past year and a half and said that Deputy Mast would be so honored with this dedication.
“Our greatest fear is that he will be forgotten, and I pray that everyone who crosses the bridge takes the time to remember the sacrifice he made to protect the community and thank god for all law enforcement for what they do to serve and protect us everyday,” Paige Mast said.
The Watauga County Board of Commissioners adopted a resolution on July 16, 2013, to name the bridge in honor of Deputy Mast and since the bridge was within Boone, the town adopted a similar resolution last summer as well. See resolution below.