WWII veteran honored in banner raising ceremony

The family of Sergeant Donald C. Fleming poses with the banner which was hung in Seaman to honor Fleming for his service in World War II


Military banner project expands across Adams County – 

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/seamanwww.troopbanners.com/peebles,
www.troopbanners.com/winchester, and www.troopbanners.com/westunion.
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.