More than a decade has passed since U.S. Army Sgt. First Class Rick Herrema died during battle in Iraq in 2006.

But members of Second Christian Reformed Church in Byron Center, Mich., haven’t forgotten Herrema’s service and sacrifice for his country. Now some of them are working toward creating a retreat center for military families near Fort Bragg, N.C., named in his honor.

The 56-member team, including Rick’s father, Dick, spent a week in early April to establish Rick’s Place, a 50-acre retreat center that will offer a place for soldiers returning from the battlefield to reconnect with their families at no cost.

Participants had an opportunity to meet some of the military families who are expected to visit Rick’s Place. “It gave me a very deep appreciation for military families, the struggle they go through day by day, especially when a member of the family is on deployment,” said Kendra Arendsen, one of the church members who took part in the project.

The work team cleared away trees, built a footbridge, two pergolas and benches, and also worked on a playground as part of the week’s activities.

Rick’s Place, which is located three miles from Fort Bragg, will offer horseback riding, fishing, a splash pad, nature trails, and family gardening plots; the lodge will include a coffee shop, outdoor grilling area, fire pits, and artwork.

About the Author

Greg Chandler is the Banner's regional news correspondent for classes Georgetown and Grandville.