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Tag Archive | "memorial day"

We remember your sacrifice


By Judy Reed

Over the years, we’ve done stories on a few different men from our area that were killed in action. This Memorial Day, we highlight four more men, of whom little is known, but who made the ultimate sacrifice while serving their country.

David Warren Wheeler WWI

The tombstone of David Warren Wheeler, who died in World War I (1918) while enlisted in the U.S. Navy.

There was one sentence in the Cedar Springs Story, by Sue Harrison and Donna DeJong, that said an early casualty of WWI was a DW Wheeler, son of D. and Zoe Wheeler. No other info was listed. So we did some digging and turned up various birth, death, and military records.

DW Wheeler was a David Warren Wheeler, born in Nelson Township to Ephriam Wales and Zoe Pearl (Carpenter) Wheeler, who were married Feb. 4, 1897. David was born March 21, 1899. In the 1900 census, the three of them still lived in Nelson Township. Sometime in the next few years, they moved to Bangor in VanBuren County. Another child was born in 1902 (Marion, a daughter) and another boy in 1906, Harry Fredric, who only lived two days. He was buried in Elmwood Cemetery, though in 1910, they were still residing in Bangor. At some point they returned to Cedar Springs, because a veteran record for David Warren Wheeler in 1918 showed he was from Cedar Springs, Kent County, Mich.

He enlisted in the U.S. Navy in Detroit, on July 22, 1918. He was shown as an apprentice seaman in the United States Naval Reserve Force. David served just under three months when he died at the Naval Hospital in Great Lakes, Illinois on October 2, 1918, at the age of 19. The cause is listed as influenza.

His parents, Ephriam (Ephraim in some records) and Zoe, show they were divorced four years later, in 1922. Ephriam died three years later at age 50 in 1925 and Zoe lived to age 85. She died in 1961. All are buried in Elmwood Cemetery. David Warren’s gravestone appears to show he died in 1916 instead of 1918.

T/Sgt. John C. Stevens WWII

The tombstone of T/Sgt. John C. Stevens, who died during World War II.

According to information shared with us from the Cedar Springs Historical Museum, Sgt. John C. Stevens was a radio operator on B-17 bombers flying out of England with the Army Air Force. He was listed as MIA when his plane did not return from a mission over Merseburg, a critical German oil supply depot of the German forces on Aug. 24, 1944. His remains were returned to the U.S. five years later. He has a tombstone in Elmwood Cemetery. His tombstone shows he was born in 1923, making him 21 when he died.

Pfc. Thomas Kemp died in Vietnam.

Pfc. Thomas William Kemp Vietnam

Thomas William Kemp was born on November 18, 1948 to Donald and Dorothy Kemp of Rockford. He graduated from Cedar Springs High School in 1967. He served as a rifleman in the first squadron, of the first platoon of Charley Company, 1st battalion, 26th Marine regiment. He was part of a CAP. CAPs (Combined Action Platoons) were units where Marines would, live, train, and patrol with local Vietnamese PF’s (Popular Forces) in their villages. A squad of Marines would be assigned to villages that had a high enemy presence, to instill the fighting spirit in the local PFs so they can protect their families and fellow citizens against their enemy.

On May 30, 1968, while on A patrol in Thua Thien Province, an AP (Anti-Personnel) mine was detonated and two Marines were killed. PFC Kemp was one of the casualties; he was killed in action by multiple fragmentation wounds from the hostile explosive device. He was age 19, and had been there only since late December. He is buried in Blythefield Memory Gardens.

Sp4. Terry Allen Frechette died in Vietnam.

SP/4 Terry Allen Frechette Vietnam

Terry Allen Frechette, the son of Mr. and Mrs. Willard Frechette, was 21 years old when he was killed in action in Vietnam on Friday, July 16, 1968, according to his obituary. A rifleman with Company D, 2nd battalion, 16th infantry regiment, 1st infantry division, he was in Vietnam for six months. He received the Silver Star for gallantry by saving his commanding officer from injury from a booby trap. He was also awarded the bronze star and a purple heart. He was survived by his parents, and nine sisters and brothers. He is buried in Plainfield Cemetery.

Many thanks to Sharon Jett and the Cedar Springs Historical Museum for their information and help with this story. Other sources of information included Findagrave.com, West Michigan Genealogical Society, and Ancestry.com.

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Lest we forget


Memorial Day is a day to remember and honor those that gave their lives while defending our country. It’s also a day to remember all those that have served and are now deceased. Inside this issue are the names of many of the veterans buried in area cemeteries (though not all), and we honor them with this issue of The Cedar Springs Post. If you know of a veteran’s name that is missing from the list, please let us know and we’ll add them for next year. (Download list here)

There are a few memorial activities and ceremonies taking place this weekend, though not as many as in prior years.

The Cedar Springs Historical Society will NOT hold its annual Memorial Cemetery Walk this year. They hope to return next year.

The American Legion Glen Hill Post #287 in Cedar Springs will hold their annual Memorial Day program on Monday, May 31, but will only visit two locations. They will be at Elmwood Cemetery at 9 a.m., and Veterans Memorial Park, (corner of Main and Oak in Cedar Springs) at about 9:30 a.m. Returning this year is the Avenue of Flags, displayed in Elmwood Cemetery, with each flag representing a veteran who has served and passed away. 

Algoma Township: Take a Walk Through the Algoma Township Cemetery. They will be putting out flags on the veterans gravesites and also Civil War markers on those who fought in the Civil War. The Memorial Day service will not take place again this year because the groups that participate in the service still are not getting together yet. We hope that next year we can go back to our regular Memorial Day service. We encourage everyone to take a portion of your day to visit the cemetery and remember those who served and paid the ultimate price for our freedom.

Sand Lake: The Sand Lake VFW disbanded this year. We have no info on whether any other post will have services in any of the area cemeteries. 

Sparta will host its annual Memorial Day Ceremony on Monday, May 31 at 10:30 am in Lamoreaux Park (256 Park St., Sparta). Veteran Donald Bradford will be speaking and music will be provided by Sparta High School Band. This event is hosted by American Legion Post 107 and Sparta Township Historical Commission.

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Social Security honors our military heroes


By Vonda Van Til, Social Security Public Affairs Specialist 

On Memorial Day, our nation honors military service members who have given their lives for our country.  Families, friends, and communities pause to remember the many great sacrifices of our military and ensure their legacy lives on in the freedoms we all enjoy.  We recognize these heroes who, in President Lincoln’s words, “gave the last full measure of devotion.”  

The benefits we provide can help the families of military service members.  For example, widows, widowers, and their dependent children may be eligible for Social Security survivor’s benefits.  You can learn more about those benefits at www.ssa.gov/survivors.  

We also offer support to our wounded warriors.  Social Security benefits protect veterans when an injury prevents them from returning to active duty or performing other work.  Wounded military service members can receive expedited processing of their Social Security disability claims.  Are you a veteran with a 100 percent Permanent & Total compensation rating from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs?  We will expedite your disability claim.  Both the Department of Veteran Affairs and the Social Security Administration have disability programs.  You may qualify for disability benefits through one program but not the other, or you may qualify for both.  Depending on your situation, some of your family members, including your dependent children or spouse, may be eligible to receive Social Security benefits.  

Want more information?  Visit www.ssa.gov/woundedwarriors for answers to commonly asked questions or to find information about the application process. 

Thinking about retirement?  Military service members can receive Social Security benefits in addition to their military retirement benefits.  For details, read the Military Service page of our Retirement Planner, available at www.ssa.gov/planners/retire/veterans.html.

Please share this information with the military families in your community.  To the veterans who bravely served and died for our country, and to the military service members who serve today, we honor and thank you.

Vonda VanTil is the Public Affairs Specialist for West Michigan.  You can write her c/o Social Security Administration, 3045 Knapp NE, Grand Rapids MI 49525 or via email at vonda.vantil@ssa.gov.  

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Lest we forget


Memorial Day services are conducted around this Civil War monument in Elmwood Cemetery each Memorial Day. Post photo by J. Reed.

Memorial Day is a day to remember and honor those that gave their lives while defending our country. It’s also a day to remember all those that have served and are now deceased. Inside this issue are the names of many of the veterans buried in area cemeteries (though not all), and we honor them with this issue of The Cedar Springs Post, click here to download. If you know of a veteran’s name that is missing from the list, please let us know and we’ll add them for next year.

There will be several memorial activities and ceremonies taking place this weekend that residents are encouraged to take part in:

The Cedar Springs Historical Society will hold its 19th annual Memorial Cemetery Walk on Sunday, May 26, at 2 p.m. to honor veterans of all wars. This year’s veterans will be Leander Jewell, Civil War; Harold Bicknell Glidden, World War I; Leland Dewey, World War II; William Wilson, Korean War; Michael E. Magoon, Vietnam War.

Biographical and historical information will be presented at each gravesite. The Glen Hill Post of the American Legion honor guard will assist at the presentation. We will leave from the museum in Morley Park at 1:30 pm and return there for refreshments. In case of severe weather warnings we will cancel the event. In case of rain we will do the presentations in the museum.

The American Legion Glen Hill Post #287 in Cedar Springs will hold their annual Memorial Day program on Monday, May 27. They will be at Elmwood Cemetery at 9 a.m., Solon Cemetery at 10 a.m., East Nelson Cemetery at about 11 a.m., and Veterans Memorial Park, (corner of Main and Oak in Cedar Springs) at about noon. Our speaker is 5th District American Legion Commander Keith Wakefield.  In case of rain, the ceremony will be held at the American Legion Post #287 at 11 a.m.

Poppy days are on May 24, 25 and 26. The Legion Auxiliary will be distributing them in Cedar Springs. If you see one of our donation centers, remember the donations go to assist our Veterans’ Program and a little goes a long way.

The Algoma Township Historical Society will hold Memorial Day services on Monday, May 27, at 1:00 p.m. at Algoma Township Memorial Park, located on the south end of the Algoma township cemetery on Grange Ave., south of 13 Mile Rd.) The service this year will honor Algoma Township’s Vietnam War veterans. There will be music, readings, 21-gun salute and taps. Following the ceremony, refreshments will be served by the Algoma Township Historical Society.

We were not sent any information for Sand Lake activities, but The Sand Lake/Cedar Springs Tri-Corner Veterans of Foreign Wars Post #7912 usually holds ceremonies on Memorial Day at the VFW Post in Sand Lake at 10:30 a.m. and at Pierson Cemetery at 11 a.m. Rain or shine. 

The Sparta Township Historical Commission and Sparta American Legion Post 107 will co-sponsor their Memorial Day Service at 10:30 a.m. on Monday, May 27, at Lamoreaux Memorial Park, located at 150 Park St., Sparta, MI.. Participants are invited to bring their lawn chairs and enjoy this Memorial Day service, which will  feature patriotic music from the Sparta High School band and keynote speaker Doug Heugel, Sparta High School 1968 alumnus. 

Unique to this year’s service is recognizing the 50th anniversary of the loss of three local young men, all members of the class of 1968. 

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A family legacy


PFC Gerald G. Bonter was killed in battle in World War II in Germany just short of his 20th birthday. Courtesy photo.

When many people think of Memorial Day, they think of family get togethers, cook outs, camping trips—a whole weekend full of fun. But for some, it means so much more.

Marjorie Knapp, of Cedar Springs, has many people in her family that has served our country through the armed services over the years, and at least one that was killed in battle. Her dad, uncle, grandpa, and great-uncle have all served—and she thanks them all in our veteran’s section this week. 

“I am so proud of them and so thankful for them for keeping our country safe so we can be free,” said Marjorie. “I am grateful for them and for all who serve.”

Her great-uncle (her mom’s uncle) Gerald G. Bonter, served in the U.S. Army during World War II. He was from the area, and was killed in battle in Germany on February 28, 1945. He is buried in Hamm, a quarter in eastern Luxembourg City, in southern Luxembourg, Germany. It is the home of the Luxembourg American Cemetery and Memorial, the final resting place of 5,076 American servicemen, including General Patton.

Marjorie said she always takes time to thank those who have served when she sees them. To see the photos of some of those who have served, and the names of many of them buried in our area cemeteries, turn to pages 9-13.

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Memorial Day services 


The Glen Hill American Legion Post #287 Honor Guard as they walked through the Avenue of Flags at Elmwood Cemetery. Post photo by J. Reed.

Blue sky, sunshine, and hot weather welcomed area residents on Monday, May 28, as they gathered in cemeteries and parks for the annual Memorial Day services.

The ceremony at Elmwood Cemetery ended with a 21-gun salute followed by taps. Post photo by J. Reed.

Here in Cedar Springs, the Glen Hill American Legion Post held services at Elmwood Cemetery, where the Avenue of Flags memorialized veterans laid to rest there. There were names at each of the flags along the walkway, and flags on all the veterans graves, dating as far back as the Civil War. The American Legion also held services at Solon Cemetery; East Nelson Cemetery; and at Veterans Memorial Park on Oak Street. Nelson Township resident Col. Tom Noreen was the guest speaker. 

Memorial Day services were also held at Algoma, Sand Lake, Pierson, and Sparta.

The Cedar Springs Historical Society held their annual cemetery walk honoring veterans on Sunday, May 27.

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Lest we forget


Memorial Day services are conducted around this Civil War monument in Elmwood Cemetery each Memorial Day. Post photo by J. Reed.

Memorial Day is a day to remember and honor those that gave their lives while defending our country. It’s also a day to remember all those that have served and are now deceased. Inside this issue are the names of many of the veterans buried in area cemeteries (though not all), and we honor them with this issue of The Cedar Springs Post, click here to download. If you know of a veteran’s name that is missing from the list, please let us know and we’ll add them for next year.

There will be several memorial activities and ceremonies taking place this weekend that residents are encouraged to take part in:

The Cedar Springs Historical Society will hold its 18th annual Memorial Cemetery Walk on Sunday, May 27, at 2 p.m. to honor veterans of all wars. This year’s veterans will be Alfred Sliter, Civil War; Samuel Armstrong, Spanish/Philippine American War; Russell VanDore, World War I; Mark Wheeler, World War II; Don Miles, Korean War; Carl Straub, Vietnam War. 

Biographical and historical information will be presented at each gravesite. The Glen Hill Post of the American Legion honor guard will assist at the presentation. We will leave from the museum in Morley Park at 1:30 pm and return there for refreshments. In case of severe weather warnings we will cancel the event. In case of rain we will do the presentations in the museum.

The American Legion Glen Hill Post #287 in Cedar Springs will hold their annual Memorial Day program on Monday, May 28. They will be at Elmwood Cemetery at 9 a.m., Solon Cemetery at 10 a.m., East Nelson Cemetery at 10:45 a.m., and Veterans Memorial Park, (corner of Main and Oak in Cedar Springs) at 11:30 a.m. In case of bad weather, services will be held only in the American Legion Hall at 9 a.m. Col. Tom Noreen will be the speaker. A luncheon will follow at the American Legion Hall.

The Algoma Township Historical Society will hold Memorial Day services on Monday, May 28, at 1:00 p.m. at Algoma Township Memorial Park, located on the south end of the Algoma township cemetery on Grange Ave., south of 13 Mile Rd.) The service this year will honor Algoma Township’s Korean War veterans. There will be music, readings, 21-gun salute and taps. Following the ceremony, refreshments will be served by the Algoma Township Historical Society.

The Sand Lake/Cedar Springs Tri-Corner Veterans of Foreign Wars Post #7912 will have ceremonies on Monday, May 28. They will be at the VFW Post in Sand Lake at 10:30 a.m. and at Pierson Cemetery at 11 a.m. Rain or shine. 

The Sparta Township Historical Commission will hold their Memorial Day Service on Monday, May 28, at 10:30 a.m. at Lamoreaux Memorial Park, 150 Park St, in Sparta. 

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A way to remember: the Avenue of Flags


The Avenue of Flags lines the road through Elmwood Cemetery, a reminder of many of the veterans that have served over the years. Post photo by J. Reed.

By Judy Reed

It’s a majestic site each Memorial Day—hundreds of flags standing proudly, unfurled in the breeze, against the pale blue of a sun-drenched sky. They line the avenue that winds through Elmwood Cemetery on Northland Drive in Cedar Springs. They are beautiful to look at, but what is the story behind them?

According to Paul Schrier, treasurer at the American Legion Glen Hill Post #287, each flag honors a veteran who is no longer living. The flags are casket-sized, and according to Paul, it began years ago when families would give the Legion the flag they received at their loved one’s burial. They would hold on to it for the family, and then fly it once a year on Memorial Day. 

However, some families want to keep the original flag, so the Legion allows families to just buy a duplicate to fly once a year. The Legion also provides a pole and a plate at the base with the name of the veteran.

One thing many people may not know is that the veteran does not have to be buried in Elmwood Cemetery to have a flag on the avenue. But they do need to be a veteran, have been honorably discharged, and have some connection with Cedar Springs. A duplicate flag costs $50, and can be bought from the American Legion Post.

It’s unknown exactly when the tradition started. Schrier said he’s been organizing it for about the last seven years. However, we came across a story in a 1998 edition of the Post where George Cooley, a veteran now deceased, said at the time he had been doing it for 14 years. At the time, there were 101 flags on the Avenue of Flags.

According to Schrier, there are now 180 flags.

It takes some work ahead of time to get the holes in the cemetery ready for the flags, as well as get any new nameplates made. The American Legion also is always looking for volunteers to help put up the flags at 6 a.m. Monday morning, and then take them down again about 4 p.m. in the afternoon. If it is raining, or if rain is forecasted, they will not put them out since they are cotton, and will instead hold services in the American Legion hall.

So what does Schrier want people to feel as they walk through the Avenue of Flags? “It’s pretty impressive. I hope they remember the veterans that have served over the years,” he said.

If anyone would like to volunteer to help, or would like to buy a flag for a future year, contact Paul at the American Legion Post at 696-9160.

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Hometown Hero


Brandon M. Empie

Brandon M. Empie, 23, a 2012 graduate of Tri County High School, is currently home on leave and took part in Memorial Day ceremonies with the Cedar Springs American Legion. He joined the Air Force almost five years ago on September 11, 2012. Brandon has served two years at Royal Air Force Mildenhall in England; was deployed from there to Arba Minch in Ethiopia for six months; and is currently stationed at Andrews Air Force base near Washington D.C.

Brandon is a security forces member and is certified as a response force leader.

He is the son of Matthew Empie and Jenifer Smigiel, and grandson of Rusch and Pat Merlington, and Don and Lucille Empie.

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Lest we forget


This photo shows Roger Allen walking the Avenue of Flags at Elmwood Cemetery in 2003. Photo by L. Allen.

Memorial Day is a day to remember and honor those that gave their lives while defending our country. It’s also a day to remember all those that have served and are now deceased. Inside this issue are the names of veterans buried in area cemeteries, and we honor them with this issue of The Cedar Springs Post, click here to download. If you know of a veteran’s name that is missing from the list, please let us know and we’ll add them for next year.

There will be several memorial activities and ceremonies taking place this weekend that residents are encouraged to take part in:

The Cedar Springs Historical Society will hold its 17th annual Memorial Cemetery Walk on Sunday, May 28, at 2 p.m. to honor veterans of all wars. This year’s veterans will be Samuel Andrus, Civil War; Burton Smith, Spanish/American War; Leon Marsh, World War I; Neal Mackey, World War II; James Remington, Korean War; John Gardell, Vietnam War. Biographical and historical information will be presented at each gravesite. The Glen Hill Post of the American Legion honor guard will assist at the presentation. We will leave from the museum in Morley Park at 1:30 pm and return there for refreshments. In case of severe weather warnings we will cancel the event. In case of rain we will do the presentation in the museum.

The American Legion Glen Hill Post #287 in Cedar Springs will hold their annual Memorial Day program on Monday, May 29. They will be at Elmwood Cemetery at 9 a.m., Solon Cemetery at 10 a.m., East Nelson Cemetery at 10:45 a.m., and Veterans Memorial Park, (corner of Main and Oak in Cedar Springs) at 11:30 a.m. In case of bad weather, services will be held only in the American Legion Hall at 9 a.m. Lt/Col. Tom Noreen will be the speaker.

The Algoma Township Historical Society will hold Memorial Day services on Monday, May 29, at 1:00 p.m. at Algoma Township Memorial Park, located on the south end of the Algoma township cemetery on Grange Ave., south of 13 Mile Rd.) The service this year will honor Algoma Township’s WWI veterans, in memory of the 100-year anniversary. There will be music, readings, 21-gun salute and taps. Following the ceremony, refreshments will be served by the Algoma Township Historical Society.

The Sand Lake/Cedar Springs Tri-Corner Veterans of Foreign Wars Post #7912 will have ceremonies on Monday, May 29. They will be at the VFW Post in Sand Lake at 10:30 a.m. and at Pierson Cemetery at 11 a.m. Rain or shine. The Tri County Band will also be at Pierson Cemetery.

The Sparta Township Historical Commission will hold their Memorial Day Service on Monday, May 29, at 10:30 a.m. at Lamoreaux Memorial Park, 150 Park St, in Sparta. The speaker will be Dwight Anderson, Sparta High School Class of 1970 and former SHS principal. The Sparta High School Band will perform under the direction of Jim Walsh. The Kent County Sheriff Color Guard will also be in attendance. There will be a dedication of the John Paul “Sharkey” Badgerow Memorial Bench. Immediately following the ceremony, the Michigan Memorial Wall will be displayed for the balance of the day.

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