Ohio Flags of Honor Traveling Memorial Display began its journey in May of 2004. Gino and Lisa Zimmer, parents of Specialist Nicholaus E. Zimmer, U.S. Army, were notified on Memorial Day that their son Nick had been killed in Kufa, Iraq.
Operation Iraqi Freedom Chopper Fund
Through this tragic loss for the Zimmer family and with the gratitude they felt for the overwhelming support of veterans motorcycle clubs and organizations in attendance at the funeral, the Operation Iraqi Freedom Chopper Fund (OIFCF), a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, was established.
Everyone associated with the OIFCF worked tirelessly to raise money to build a tribute motorcycle—a custom WWII military style motorcycle with a 21st century flair—that would tour the country to memorialize all the brave men and women who gave their lives in service to their country.
In September of 2005, Ohio was notified that the U.S. Marines from Lima Company 3rd Battalion/25th Regiment were returning from a storied assignment in Iraq. Lima Company had suffered heavy losses during the eight months that they were on assignment in the Middle East.
Avenue of Flags – Rickenbacker Field
Sixteen of twenty-two killed in action were Ohio Marines, and Ohio wanted to honor Lima Company for a “job well done.” Members of a local American Legion Post made plans to set up an “Avenue of Flags” at Rickenbacker Field, south of Columbus, that the returning Marines could view as they passed by. These “Flags of Honor” were to be flown in honor of their comrades who were not returning with them, along with dozens of “tribute” flags, sponsored by Ohio veteran organizations, displayed separately.
The Rickenbacker display was well received and appreciated by all who saw it. Many asked how this memorial could tour Ohio for others to see. The next day, the OIFCF was contacted by the organizers of the flag display for Lima Company.
Ohio Flags of Honor Memorial
After some discussion, it became apparent that the Operation Iraqi Freedom Chopper Fund could have more impact by focusing on Ohio’s fallen soldiers through the “Ohio Flags of Honor” memorial tribute. Thus, on October 15th, 2005, the OIFCF became the Ohio Flags of Honor Memorial.
The traveling display is a way for the Memorial to help facilitate fellowship for families, friends, and communities who want to pay tribute to Ohio’s fallen soldiers. Through our display we hope to also raise public awareness and support for Ohio’s returning veterans.