Dewitt Memorial

Members from Point Man Ministries gather with Gold Star family members after installing a Gold Start monument in September in preparation for an upcoming dedication ceremony at the David Dewett Veterans Memorial Wayside in North Bend.

NORTH BEND — A small group of community members and veterans gathered Tuesday morning at the David Dewett Veterans Memorial Wayside in North Bend to celebrate the arrival of its new Gold Star monument.

Members from Point Man Ministries, a local faith-based veterans support group, installed the monument Tuesday in preparation for an upcoming dedication ceremony.

According to Navy veteran and PMM member Rick Anderson, the group is planning on unveiling the Gold Star monument, which is part of its larger expansion project, to the general public on Oct. 5 at 11 a.m.

“We hope the Gold Star helps provide healing for veterans and their families,” said Anderson. “That’s what the memorial site is all about – to provide healing and to keep the memory of our veterans alive.”

The dedication ceremony is set to feature a 21-gun salute by the Bandon Veterans Honor Guard, a flyover by the U.S. Coast Guard and an appearance from the Patriot Guard Riders.

For the past two years, PMM has been working to raise funds to support its expansion project which would add a number of new features to its David Dewett Veterans Memorial site located north of the historic McCullough Bridge on U.S. Highway 101.

Despite recent funding setbacks, the group was able to secure and install the Gold Star monument which will honor local families who have lost a loved one in the military.

“It’s all about keeping faith,” said Anderson. “It’s our faith in Christ and faith in the process that has allowed us to push forward with this project regardless of all its challenges.”

In May, Anderson said the organization was set back a little in its expansion efforts as it learned it did not receive a grant it applied for earlier in the year.

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The grant, which was offered through the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department, would have supplied the organization with enough funds to cover the majority of the costs associated with the project, said Anderson.

With a renewed sense of determination, fellow member and Marine Corp veteran Mark Winders said the group re-evaluated their plans and laid out their priorities with the project now moving forward step-by-step.

Among its top priorities included securing and installing the Gold Star monument. About 10 years ago, Winders said he recalled a conversation with North Bend resident Ruth Wiley after attending a ceremony for her son Lt. Col. James “Jim” Wiley Jr., who passed away on duty in Afghanistan.

“We promised the Wileys that we would get a Gold Star out here,” said Winders. “When we were at the memorial today Ruth who was there turned to me and said, ‘I remember you promised me you would do this and now you have.’ Well, this old hard Marine started tearing up. I had to look to the wind.”

Ron Van Vlack, a Vietnam and Iraq veteran who served nearly 30 years in the Oregon Army National Guard, said the group is looking to keep things going by securing more funding to complete the expansion.

In addition to the Gold Star monument, the group is also looking to install a Battle Cross monument, a new irrigation system and a bronze statue of a woman kneeling before the memorial. The statue will honor women in the military and their loved ones away at war.

According to Van Vlack, the majority of the funds being used to support the expansion have come from the group raffling off auction items at events, firewood sales and community donations. The group named the memorial after Navy veteran and PMM member David Dewett, who passed away from cancer in 2005.

According to Winders, Dewett, a shy, but extremely intelligent man, worked tirelessly to get the memorial off the ground. With the group being about 30 years old, Winders said they aren’t planning on slowing down anytime soon and work to complete the overall expansion project will continue.

For those interested in learning more information about Point Man Ministries or to make a donation, contact member Ron Van Vlack at 541-404-5552.

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Reporter Amanda Linares can be reached at 541-266-2039 or by email at amanda.linares@theworldlink.com.