MENOMINEE, Mich. (WJMN) — From Daggett to Menominee, US-41 has recently been named the Samuel R. Costello Memorial Highway.
Costello went to Menominee High School and shortly after graduation enlisted in the Air Force to serve in the Korean War. His nephews, Michael Costello and Jeff Lamont, learned about their uncle through one of his friends.
“He went on and on and on about how Sam was just loved by everything he was class officers and just everybody liked him from both sides of the track,” Lamont said.
Sam had only been out of high school for two years when he lost his life.
“He was a Menominee High School Athlete. We found his Major M. He attended Wolverine Boys’ State and we found his beanie cap that they gave him in 1948 when he went, which from what we understand that was from the Legion and that was quite the honor to be accepted into this at that time,” Costello said.
Costello and Lamont found letters from Sam Costello. Reading them, they felt they were getting to know him.
“One of his letters talked about when he does get out of the service he wanted to possibly come back to become an athletic director, he wanted to get into teaching because he loved sports so much. He was pretty much a star athlete football center, linebacker. He was a big boy,” Michael Costello said.
When Sam Costello was listed as missing and later as having been killed, letters came from his fellow servicemen.
“This is the letter from a gentleman … Al Hall, and I’m just looking at one of the paragraphs, ‘Yes, I believe I knew Sam better than anyone else and he became as much a part of me as my right arm. Christmas Day, I was reading the Stars and Stripes and I came across an item listing the names of persons missing in the C54 crash I started to pass it but something pulled me back to it. I read through it, I came across Sam’s name, yes, that was my Christmas present and part of me died then,'” Michael Costello said.
Sam Costello died in a plane crash while traveling between Okinawa Japan and the Clark Air Force base in the Philippines. The plane hit Mount Tabayoc in the Philippines, leaving no survivors.
“It took over a year and a half or close to two years before the bodies were recovered this was at 13,000 feet or something like that in a very remote area of the Philippines and so his body, it took quite a while to retrieve the remains,” Lamont said.
When Sam Costello’s body was brought back to Menominee, Lamont and Michael Costello say, a lot of his former classmates were waiting for his train and that some were the pallbearers at his funeral. The Menominee High School class of 1948 enacted a traveling trophy between Iron Mountain and Menominee High Schools to commemorate Sam Costello and all classmates who had lost their lives in service.
The trophy was played for between the two schools for several years after Costello’s death, although the location of the trophy is now unknown.
When the cousins were picking a place to commemorate their uncle, they chose US-41 between Dagett and Menominee because of other family significance.
In 1939, Sam Costello’s mother died near Stephenson in a car crash. Lamont say’s his mother, Sam Costello’s sister, recalled how he would stick up for her when their father was remarried and there were disagreements with their stepmother.
A House bill designated the highway in memory of Sam Costello in September, but signage was added on Oct. 28.