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Ohio Flags of Honor on display at Black River Landing in Lorain

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    Brandon Cline, 8, of Elyria Boy Scout Pack 54, posts flags at the Ohio Flags of Honor at Black River Landing on Friday.

    STEVE MANHEIM

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LORAIN — Tom and Shary Barnes carried the flag bearing their late son’s name across the grounds of Black River Landing on Friday night as part of the Ohio Flags of Honor traveling memorial.

They were the first couple from Lorain County to carry the flag in their son’s honor. Their son, Airman 1st Class Eric M. Barnes, 20, was killed June 10, 2007, by an improvised explosive device while in convoy in Iraq.

Friday night wasn’t the first time the couple participated in the traveling flag memorial.

“We’ve done several of them,” Shary Barnes, of Lorain, said after placing the flag with her son’s name on a stake. “We do it to honor our son, and the other soldiers and their families as well.”

The Ohio Flags of Honor Foundation began in May 2004. It was then when Gino and Lisa Zimmer, parents of U.S. Army Spc. Nicholaus Zimmer, were notified on Memorial Day that their son had been killed in Kufa, Iraq.

The traveling display is a way for the foundation to help facilitate fellowship for families, friends and communities who want to pay tribute to Ohio’s fallen soldiers, Gino Zimmer said.

And, on Friday night, with the temperature 54 degrees near the shores of Lake Erie, the families of Lance Cpl. David Hall and

Staff Sgt. James Hunter followed in displaying their sons’ flag on the lawn.

Hall, 31, of Elyria, died Aug. 31, 2009, from a roadside bomb explosion as he patrolled a dangerous region in southern Afghanistan.

Hunter, 25, of South Amherst, died June 18, 2010, while on patrol in the Zhari district of Kandahar, Afghanistan, after his patrol unit encountered an improvised explosive device. Hunter was serving primarily as a photojournalist for the Fort Campbell (Ky.) Courier with an infantry squad.

Friday kicked off the traveling memorial in Ohio, with Lorain being the first stop to host the flag display, said Barb Smith.

Smith serves as the secretary for the Amherst Veterans Mural Committee. Smith was instrumental in bringing together the Gold Star families who have their son pictured on The War on Terror Mural in Amherst to the Friday event.

“Every city has audience participation,” Smith said.

After the families of the Lorain County fallen soldiers displayed their sons’ flag, local Boy Scout Troops and others took turns carrying the flags before placing them in their final resting site for the remainder of the weekend.

“Regardless of the weather, I wouldn’t have missed this for the world,” Mayor Chase Ritenour said. “This is a reminder of the ultimate sacrifice and a great way to bring more notice to the ultimate sacrifice. Don’t forget what this means and what people have done to allow us to exercise our freedoms.”

The Ohio Flags of Honor will be on display until the closing ceremony 2 p.m. Sunday at Black River Landing, in Lorain.

Contact Melissa Linebrink at 329-7243 or mlinebrink@chroniclet.com. Follow her on Twitter @MLinebrinkCT.

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