On Saturday, Sept. 12, the Ohio Fallen Heroes Memorial will hold its 10th annual Ohio Fallen Heroes Memorial ceremony and Gold Star family reception, honoring all Ohio service members killed in the “War on Terror” and the Gold Star families left behind.
Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 8736 commander and Ohio Fallen Heroes Memorial founder Jerry Jodrey said this year is also the 10th anniversary of the devastating hit in Haditha, Iraq, that took the lives of 14 U.S. Marines, nine of them from Columbus-based Lima Company, part of the 3rd Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment. During their deployment, 16 Lima Company Marines were killed in action.
Jodrey said U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, Congressman Pat Tiberi and Rear Admiral Robin Osborn, Commandant, Ohio Naval Militia, will speak during the ceremony.
Ohio Fallen Heroes Memorial president Jim Bernholtz will emcee the ceremony. Bernholtz, a Gold Star family member, is the father of Lance Cpl. Eric J. Bernholtz, who was killed in action on Aug. 3, 2005, while serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom.
All branches of the military services will be represented at this year’s memorial service, Jodrey said. Marines will raise the American flag, and members of other services will raise the branch flags.
“We need to fill the hillside with people from the Big Walnut area to show support to the Gold Star families on the 10th anniversary of the memorial,” Jodrey said. “We will be honoring the soldiers, Marines, airmen, Navy and Coast Guard men and women who lost lives in the war on terror to keep our country safe and out of harm’s way. They’re all represented in that field.
“It’s so important we maintain our allegiance with each other,” Jodrey added. “This country should unite together to make sure we don’t have another 9/11.”
The Ohio Fallen Heroes Memorial was established in 2005 on East Cherry Street in Sunbury through the efforts of veterans, Gold Star families and other patriotic Ohioans who wanted to create a lasting tribute to those killed in the War on Terror.
The Ohio House recognized the the Ohio Fallen Heroes Memorial as a statewide memorial to Ohio’s fallen in 2005.
Each of the Ohio service members killed in the line of duty since the War on Terror began is honored with the placement of a large marble marker bearing his or her name, rank and date of death.
The memorial also includes a chapel, a Courtyard of Honor, and various military sculptures and flags.
Each year, the Ohio Fallen Heroes Memorial holds a private luncheon at Sunbury United Methodist Church for Gold Star family members, who then walk en masse across the street to the memorial site.
There, with the public, elected officials and members of the military in attendance, a public ceremony honors the fallen —- culminating in the reading of each service member’s name aloud.
The rain or shine public ceremony begins at 4 p.m. and lasts about two hours.
For more information, visit the Ohio Fallen Heroes Memorial website at ohiofallenheroes.org.
Reporter Lenny C. Lepola can be reached at 614-266-6093