Coos Bay Flag Pole Project

Raised on June 21, 2007

Veterans group wants U.S. flag to fly high on Coos Bay Boardwalk

By John Gunther, Sports Editor, The World Newspaper

The Coos Bay Boardwalk has more than 20 flags.

There's a movement in the Bay Area to add one more.

Point Man Ministries Outpost No. 101, a local veterans group, is raising funds for a 60-foot flagpole for the boardwalk as a new way to honor local residents who are serving in the military and those who have died serving the country.

The driving force is a desire to have a highly visible flag that can be lowered to half mast in honor of local service members who die. That can't easily be done with the current flag configuration on the boardwalk because all the international flags also would have to be lowered - under national guidelines, the American flag is supposed to fly higher than those of other countries.

Hank Elsworth, one of the leaders in the local post of Point Man Ministries, said community response to the project has been positive.

"A lot of people who weren't aware of it are extremely supportive of it," Elsworth said. "The people who are aware of it are very thankful we are doing this."

One of the biggest supporters is Debbie Johnston, who works at South Coast Office Supply and nearly every morning posts seven flags - the American flag and the official flags of the armed services, the Army, Air Force, Navy, Marines and Coast Guard, as well as the prisoners of war flag - outside the business.

"I just think it's very important to show the people that are in the service our support," said Johnston, whose son, Bobby, a North Bend High School graduate, has been in the U.S. Air Force for seven years. "I know how important it is for them to have our support and to show honor for those who have given their lives for us for our freedom."

Johnston thinks the boardwalk is the perfect place for the flag.

"The city has one they put at half mast, but people don't drive by City Hall," she said. "People drive by (Highway) 101 constantly."

Coos Bay City Manager Scott McClure said the City Council gave vocal support for the boardwalk flag project when Elsworth presented it at a meeting earlier this year, but added that an update with the design and specific plans should be presented before the project gets the final go-ahead.

The boardwalk has 22 flags, standing about 20 feet tall, which were installed more than a decade ago. For most of the year, they represent different countries - the United States and 21 others that have had ships visit the port, which once was one of the largest wood products exporters in the world.

From Memorial Day through the Fourth of July, all 22 flagpoles fly American flags in honor of those national holidays and Flag Day, which is today.

Putting the flags at half-mast is not practical, said Steve Doty, operations administrator for the city.

"It's very time-consuming, and besides, it puts the flags very low to the ground, which allows people to mess with them," he said.

The estimated cost for the flagpole and installation is $16,000, Elsworth said.
[Note: We will be talking to local contractors and Coos Bay city officials to have the balance above the $6,000.00 level waived.]

Early fund-raising efforts have brought in $800 and an account has been set up at Bank of America for people who want to make donations, he said. People can donate to the Raise the Flag account at any of the bank's branches.

The flag campaign is just one of several projects for Point Man Ministries, which Elsworth characterizes as "veterans helping veterans."

"There's no membership dues for it," he said. "You can't join it. You just come because you are either receiving or giving, whether it's hands-on, helping someone move or fix something, or whether it's spiritual, helping someone with an emotional problem or counseling."

The group meets at 7 p.m. every Tuesday in the basement of the Foursquare Church in Coos Bay. The weekly meetings are open to veterans or others from the community and include a time of prayer and an update on the group's various activities.

One of those actions has been posting pictures of active duty personnel from the area in the Coos Bay and North Bend Safeway stores and at Wal-Mart. When family members supply information about a person on duty overseas, the group posts a picture and the information, and sends a care package.

"It's just to support and respect the troops that are over there - to bring attention and awareness to it," Elsworth said.

One of the group's goals is to ensure all soldiers are treated properly when they return home, especially after the way many veterans of the Vietnam War were treated, Elsworth said.

"One of the expressions we use is, 'We'll never let it happen again,'" he said.

"We don't always remember the guys who are out there serving," said Johnston. "I would hate to have any of the people serving come home as the Vietnam veterans did.

"The people in the service are the ones that are defending our country, no matter where they are."

Point Man Ministries also will take part in the groundbreaking for a new Afghanistan-Iraq war memorial at the State Capitol in Salem today. The veterans will ride to Salem, following the portable Vietnam veterans wall that lists all the Coos County residents killed in Vietnam.

For more information about Point Man Ministries, those interested can call either 297-8821 or (866) 289-1288.

Special flag ceremony
Monday, February 5, 2007 1:05 PM PST


Several veterans unfold a 12-foot- by-18-foot American flag Saturday, to demonstrate progress in the project to Raise the Flag for the Coos Bay Boardwalk. Point Man Ministries, Outpost 101, began the project in early 2005 to raise the money needed for a tall flagpole and big flag to be flown on the city's waterfront. The flagpoles presently in place there are too short for the standards to be lowered to half-staff. They set out to raise the $5,000 [ $6,000 ] necessary for the flagpole and are now a little more than $1,000.00 away from their goal. Highway 101 Harley-Davidson purchased the flag. In the parking lot of the dealership, the flag was shown to veterans and the public during a special ceremony. Top right, Hank Elsworth is beaming as he holds the folded flag Saturday, shortly before it was unfolded and displayed for the first time. He organized the efforts to have the larger flagpole to be set up at the Coos Bay Boardwalk. The logo for the Point Man Ministries on the back of a leather jacket, one of several worn by veterans Saturday, for the special flag ceremony.

World Photos by Lou Sennick

 As of February 27, 2007 we have raised approximately $6,122.00 towards the Project.  We have reached the $6,000.00 mark. 

We ordered the 60' Flagpole and it arrived from Michigan during the first week of May. 

We had a meeting with the Coos Bay City representatives.  It was determined, due to congressional flagpole etiquette, that the flagpole cannot be placed at the north end of the row of International flags currently located at the Coos Bay Boardwalk.  U.S. Code states that when you have a row of International flags the U.S. flag must be the same height as the other national flags during a time of peace.  We are at war, but if this changes then the 60' pole would not conform to the etiquette.  We all then decided that the location would be west of the Boardwalk on the corner of Hiway 101 and Commercial Street.

We have excavated the large hole and the next step will be to pour the concrete.  After it sets, we will erect the flagpole with flags.  It won't be long now...! 

!!! The Flagpole is standing as of June 21, 2007 !!!

It was very exciting to see the 60' Flagpole raised into place today.  A special "Thanks" from Point Man Ministries Outpost 101 to ALL who participated and/or donated to the project...!  Dave Kronsteiner of West Coast Contractors donated the use of his company crane to lift and place the Flagpole.  Kudos to Hank Elsworth and John Schwenzfeier who labored until 2 am to get the pole assembled in time for the 9 am raising. 

The City of Coos Bay has volunteered to provide the lighting for the Flagpole.  Until then we will not be able to fly the U.S. Flag as it must be lighted during the nighttime hours.  We may raise the flag at times during daylight hours leading up to the completion of the lighting project.

Point Man Ministries Outpost 101 will have a dedication ceremony on July 4, 2007.  This permanent monument will honor those who have sacrificed their lives in service to our Nation as well as all who have worn, are wearing and will wear the uniforms of the United States military services.

[ Click on any Photo below to view a larger Image ]





Here are some photos of the July 4, 2007 Dedication Ceremony



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