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Published on August 09, 2018

Field of Flags Ceremony Honors Veterans and Military Working Dogs

Sunshine embraced 80 veterans, their families and friends, as a gentle breeze waved through the 250 flags at the Tolfree Wellness Park during the Field of Flags and Veterans’ Waterfall Garden dedication, as well as the Groundbreaking of Pat’s Pooch Park held on Saturday, July 28. This new addition to the Tolfree Wellness Park was a gift from the Tolfree Foundation and volunteers to commemorate the memory and in honor of past and present veterans.

Photo of Robert A. I. McGrail, president of MidMichigan Medical Center - West Branch receiving the U.S. flag in memory of his father at the Field of Flags ceremony.Robert A. I. McGrail, president, MidMichigan Medical Center – West Branch receives U.S. flag dedicated in memory of his father flown over the State Capitol, March 13, 2018 by J. Daniel Stoneback, chair, Board of Directors, MidMichigan Medical Center – West Branch and Ogemaw County Honor Guard Michael Thorne.

At high noon Ogemaw County Honor Guard raised the U.S. flag on the new 30 ft. flagpole dedicated to the memory of the highly decorated Robert A. McGrail, P.F.C., U.S. Army World II veteran. Robert A. I. McGrail, his son and president of MidMichigan Medical Center – West Branch accepted this honor on behalf of his family and siblings, many of whom had travelled from out of state for this occasion.

Ray VanGoethem, owner of Northern Michigan Aquatics who gifted the new Veterans’ Waterfall Garden in memory of his father, Raymond F. VanGoethem, U.S. Navy, World II veteran shared endearing moments of joy and pride, not only of his father, but also gave thanks to all veterans for their bravery and love of country to keep us free.  Likewise, Adrian J. Dantzer, U.S. Army Air Corps, World War II veteran was honored by a gift from his son-in-law, Preston Colclasure who laid the brick platform surrounding the flagpole.

Photo of Wiegerink Family at Pat's Pooch Park groundbreaking.Pat’s Pooch Park site at the Tolfree Wellness Park with some of the Wiegerink Family with shovels.

The Groundbreaking of Pat’s Pooch Park followed along these same lines with words uttered by Trish Wiegerink, daughter of Dr. Lloyd and Mrs. Pat Wiegerink, extoling the virtues of the military working dogs who had given their lives for mankind and freedom. Eight members of the Wiegerink Family, Robert A. I. McGrail and Jim Finlayson, Vietnam veteran and military working dog handler finished the ceremony by turning the first ground of Pat’s Pooch Park. A complimentary lunch and camaraderie followed.