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First Section of Riverfront Commons in Dayton to Honor Heroic Marine

The first completed section of Riverfront Commons in Dayton will be celebrated with a ribbon-cutting this week.

Riverfront Commons is the more than eleven-mile trail system that will ultimately connect the river cities of Ludlow, Covington, Newport, Bellevue, Dayton, and Fort Thomas.

The dedication in Dayton is set for Thursday, August 8 at 6 p.m. at the base of O'Fallon Avenue on the Ohio riverfront.

The section will be known as Ahrens Way, in honor of Private First Class Henry Ahrens, a Dayton native who served in the U.S. Marines during World War II.

He was killed in battle on the night of August 7 or morning of August 8, 1942.

According to various accounts, Ahrens landed with U.S. military personnel at Tulagi, Guadalcanal, British Solomon Islands where they were met with a nighttime attack from Japanese soldiers.

In reports from the time, Ahrens was remembered for single-handedly engaging a group of Japanese soldiers in hand-to-hand combat.

In the aftermath, Major Lew Walt said that he found Ahrens slumped in a corner of a foxhole, covered in blood. Two dead Japanese officers were in there with him, and eleven more Japanese soldiers lay dead around the foxhole. Ahrens was still clutching an officer's sword.

According to Walt, Ahrens's final words were, "The idiot tried to come over me last night. I guess they didn't know I was a Marine." Ahrens died at age 22 in the arms of Walt.

His great personal valor and indomitable fighting spirit were regarded as a contribution to the noblest traditions of the United States Naval Service.

In recognition of his service, the U.S. Navy commissioned a ship in his honor. USS Ahrens (DE-575).

“On August 8th, the anniversary of Mr. Ahrens’ passing, the City of Dayton will remember him and his heroic contribution to our country.  To do so on the very shores of the river Mr. Ahrens grew up on is an honor,” said Dayton Mayor Ben Baker.

Following the Arhens’ Way Dedication there will be a reception at the Dayton Heritage Museum (718 Sixth Avenue) to showcase the display about Private First Class Edward Henry Ahrens and the recently acquired model of the USS Ahrens that was hand built by Dayton resident Robert Pendery.

-Staff report

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