The Friends of the Ahwahnee Hills Regional Park and members of 41-49 Chapter of E. Clampus Vitus, Caring Vets, Inc., and Marine Corps League Griswold Mountain Detachment #1121, held a dedication ceremony July 30 for the “By Veterans For Veterans” memorial at Ahwahnee Hills Regional Park on Highway 49.
Fern Facchino, chairperson of Friends of the Ahwahnee Hills Park committee, welcomed the 80 people who attended the ceremony.
Steve Varner led in the Pledge of Allegiance, and retired Navy Chaplin Richard Lamontagne led the gathering in prayer.
The plaque, marble pedestal, and walkway from the historic steps at the park to and around the flagpole were dedicated to the late J.R. Froelich, former Caring Vets, Inc., who joined the U.S. Navy in 1967, serving two tours in Vietnam. He was also one of the individuals who had the idea for the project to honor veterans.
“I wish J.R. could have been here today to see this,” said his wife Jan. “He loved America and he loved all the veterans who served their country, especially those who gave their lives for our freedom.”
JJ Skeen, 41-49 Clamper Chapter Noble Humbug, thanked the many Clampers who worked on the project including Clamper project leaders Keith Stevenson and Kurt Bridwell.
During the ceremony, Jan Froelich, Ward, and Clamper Chuck Jones joined Skeen for a traditional Clamper toast to J.R Froelich and the memorial.
Park committee board member Tony Ward thanked people and businesses that made the memorial possible, including Ahwahnee contractor Randy Papike, Outback Materials, Oakhurst Rock and Bedrosians Marble & Tile of Fresno.
Ward thanked Alan Kinsel and David Cole for installing the spotlight so the flags would be lit at night.
Oakhurst, Mariposa and Hanford Veterans of Foreign Wars posts were also represented at the event.
Dusty Hanson and Susie McGregor of Mariposa offered to purchase a new American flag and a new POW MIA flag on behalf of the Run for the Wall for the flagpole.
“By working with the service members and the Clampers, we have been able to provide recognition for the veterans of Eastern Madera County,” Ward said.
WWII veteran Gayle Jones of Mariposa donated the materials for the flagpole and two veterans from Mariposa, who requested no publicity, spent countless hours manufacturing, painting, transporting, and installing the flagpole. True Value Home Center of Oakhurst also provided materials for the dedication.
The flagpole at the monument was dedicated Oct. 11, 2014 by the Oakhurst Marine Corps League.