Milwaukee street renamed in honor of soldier killed in combat

MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- There was a special dedication on Sunday, April 6th in honor of Army Specialist Michelle Witmer -- days before the 10th anniversary of her death. Witmer, a New Berlin native, was the first female Wisconsin National Guard soldier to be killed in combat.

Michelle Witmer was killed on April 9, 2004 during an attack by small-arms fire and an improvised explosive device in Baghdad.

On Sunday, April 6th, Richards Street from Capitol Drive to the north was renamed after Witmer.

It is now called Witmer Street.

"I think she would be humbled, but I don't think she would want the attention. That's how Michelle was," Witmer's friend, Robert Wiedel said.

Witmer's father says Michelle represents a change in how the country views women in combat.

"The females in those units served right alongside. There wasn't, you know, two different job descriptions. They all had the same job descriptions," John Witmer said.

"The culture shift has changed for women to be members of the military. They do the same job as men do -- especially in combat arms," Wiedel said.

Those who knew her hope renaming the road will help people to remember.

"Every person who turns down Witmer Street, every soldier or airman who travels to the Witmer Street Armory will be reminded (of Michelle)," a speaker said at Sunday's event.

"What she would have wanted is for people to be inspired to make a difference in Wisconsin, their community, with someone in need," a speaker said.

Sunday's dedication was attended by members of the National Guard's 32nd Military Police -- the company Witmer served with while in Iraq.