The traveling memorial honors the men and women of Ohio who have given their lives in service to their country during the War on Terror. The opening ceremony will be at 7 p.m. June 28 at the Willard City Park, 542 S. Main St. In all, nearly 900 flags will be posted and open for viewing 24 hours a day until the Ohio Flags of Honor closes with a ceremony at 2 p.m. June 30.
“The city of Willard and its community have worked tirelessly for approximately one year to host and present the Ohio Flags of Honor memorial. Its committee is comprised of city and community volunteers who have recognized the need to honor our fallen veterans and to help educate what the value of freedom really is,” said Robert Ward, Huron County veteran officer.
Rockie Lynne will perform at 8 p.m. June 29 at the Willard City Park near the pool.
“He isn’t just a Nashville recording artist; Rockie is a veteran with the 82nd Airborne (of the) United States Army. There will be fireworks after his concert,” Ward said.
The Ohio Flags of Honor will have an escort to Willard from Galion. It starts at 7:30 a.m. June 28 at 220 N. Portland Way, Galion, in the escort staging area in the parking lot behind McDonald’s. Ward said once the memorial arrives in Willard, volunteers will post about 600 “support flags,” which have been purchased by individuals, businesses, cities and organizations throughout Ohio.
“I am truly impressed by the countless hours and hard work that they have put into this event,” Ward said, referring to the Willard committee. “Many individuals on this committee are not veterans, yet their sincerity comes through as though they had all served. It has been a privilege to work with them and I am excited to see it all come together.”
Locally, the Ohio Flags of Honor is sponsored by Willard Moose No. 2153, Donald M. Graham & Associates, Secor Funeral Home and Willard Elks Lodge No. 1370.
During the opening ceremony, volunteers will post 301 flags to honor the Ohio military members who were killed during the War on Terror.
Several area “gold star members” (family members of the deceased) will post flags in tribute to their relative.
Scott and Lisa Sparks, of Monroeville, will represent their son, Army Pfc. Jason L. Sparks, who was killed Sept. 8, 2004.
Other local deceased military members who will be represented in the 301 flags are: Army Sgt. Jon L. Martin, of Bellevue, who was killed Nov. 22, 2007 and Army Sgt. Patrick R. Carroll, of New London, who was killed Feb. 7, 2011.
Charles Adkins will represent his son, Army Sgt. 1st Class Charles L. Adkins, of Sandusky, who died April 6, 2011. Chuck and Carole Hoffman, of the Columbus area, will represent their son, Sgt. Justin F. Hoffman, of the U.S. Marine Corps, who was killed Aug. 3, 2005. Warren County resident Tammy Rogers-Fairchild will represent her brother, Army Sgt. 1st Class Gregory S. Rogers, who was killed April 9, 2006. Duane and Sherry Shock will represent their son, Marine Lance Cpl. Jeremy S. Shock, who was killed Nov. 19, 2006.
Gino Zimmer, Ohio Flags of Honor president, and his wife Lisa will be at the opening ceremony.
“They got the phone call May 30, of 2004 that their son Nick was killed. He was an Army specialist,” Ward said.
There are about 16 similar Ohio Flags of Honor memorials each year.
“It goes all over the state,” Ward said. “Right now, the Ohio Flags of Honor is scheduled out to 2021.”
The Willard event isn’t the first time the memorial has been in Huron County. Bellevue hosted it in 2015 and again in 2018. Norwalk was an Ohio Flags of Honor site in 2016.
“Huron County is very supportive of its veterans. Both communities (Bellevue and Norwalk) have stepped up in a big way to pay tribute to those veterans who paid the ultimate price,” Ward said.