Military banner project expand
By Patricia Beech –
Specialist Richard A. Bell II and his family were on hand as a military banner featuring the image of his grandfather, Master Sgt. Donald C. Fleming, was hung along Main Street in Seaman earlier this year.
“It was an amazing way to honor one of the greatest men I’ve ever knew,” said son-in-law, Richard Bell Sr., a veteran of the first Iraq war. “It touched our hearts that he was being remembered.”
Fleming, a veteran of World War II, served from 1941-1945 in the United States Army Air Corps. He was the recipient of the Good Conduct Medal, the American Defense Service Medal, the American Campaign Medal, the European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal, the World War II Victory Medal, and an Honorable Service Lapel Button.
Following his death in 1991, Fleming’s family discovered that the Master Sergeant’s medals were missing. They began searching for information about the medals, and eventually decided to contact Congressman Brad Wenstrup, who presented replacement medals to the family in a special ceremony held at the Peebles Public Library.
“As a veteran serving in Congress, it is important to me to come out and honor the lives and sacrifices of veterans and their families,” Wenstrup told the family. “Master Sergeant Fleming was part of what has been called the greatest generation because they and their families made sacrifices to make life better for all of us, and when they came home they endeavored to live good lives.”
According to Fleming’s daughter Dawn Bell, the banner project provided the family with a further opportunity to honor her father’s service.
“Raising our father’s banner was equal to Congressman Wenstrup being there to present his lost medals,” said Bell. “It was very emotional for the whole family.”
“It was a special moment to witness,” said Justin Schmitz, organizer of the Troop Banner Project in Adams County. “It’s moments like these that make this program great.”
Schmitz, who is originally from Blanchester, brought the idea to Seaman from his home town where the program began five years ago. He says the program was such a success that the number of banners the town hangs has increased nearly tenfold.
“The first year they were only on Main Street, but now they’re on every street in Blanchester,” he says. “When you drive through town it just makes you swell with pride.”
The 2 x 3 foot tribute banners feature veterans from World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan, with each listing the veteran’s branch of service, dates of service, rank, honors, and medals awarded. The banners can be purchased to honor fallen, deceased and living veterans.
According to Schmitz, the troop banner project, which kicked off earlier this year in Seaman, has recently expanded to include Peebles, Winchester, and West Union.
“Thanks to Mayors and Council members who embraced this program, these military banners will be proudly displayed on the poles lining the streets of each village in our county,” he said. “We want to get the word out to ensure folks have plenty of time to order their banners for our 2018 banner raising.”
Thus far, more than 50 banners have been hung along the length of Main Street in Seaman.
Resident Donna Jones, whose grandson served in Iraq, says she thinks the banners are a great idea, “I’d like to see more of them,” she said. “It’s a great way to honor the people who protect our freedom.”
The troop banner project is sponsored by the North Adams Football organization, which Schmitz heads up.
“Our entire football program was dedicated this season to honoring our military members, past and present,” he says. “We also made the decision that as long as we exist as an organization, all veterans can attend all North Adams home football games for free – as a small way to thank those selfless men and women for their service.”
Banner applications are now being accepted for the 2018 banner raising to be held on or around Memorial Day and July 4. Application deadlines for each raising are March 15 for Memorial Day and April 30 for the Fourth of July.
To have your friend or loved one included, please do one of the following:
Contact Justin Schmitz at (937) 725-1243 to schedule an appointment at First State Bank in Winchester to order the banner. First State Bank is located at 19230 State Route 136 in Winchester. Provide a photo of the military member in uniform with the completed application to be directly uploaded. The banner application can be found on the town’s troop banner website at: www.troopbanners.com/seaman, www.troopbanners.com/peebles,
Payment must be made at the time of registration.
To apply through postal carrier, mail the completed application with a photo of the military member in uniform. Make check payable to: North Adams Football Organization and mail to North Adams Football Organization, Inc., c/o Justin Schmitz, 2323 State Route 770, Seaman, OH 45679
The cost to join the program for 2018 is $125 for one 24” x 36”” Military Banner, printed on front and back, including the brackets required for public display. Annual dues are $10 annually for those participating in the banner raising.
Visit the Military Tribute site at http://www.troopbanners.com. When you participate in the Military Banner program, you will be eligible to purchase personal lawn banners (12″x18″) at $14 each, hardware not included.