(Publisher’s note from Judy Gentz, Joel was 1 of 5 men who died as a result of enemy fire on their helicopter and the resulting crash; and Joel was a CRO based at the 58th Rescue Squadron at Nellis AFB. This information has been corrected in the story.)
Luke Heumann has begun a fundraising campaign for a very special Eagle Scout project.
Many of you will remember Capt. Joel Christopher Gentz, and Heumann plans to build a memorial for him.
Gentz, 25, of Grass Lake, was one of Five airmen killed in Afghanistan on June 9, 2010, when their helicopter was shot down during a medical mission in the Helmand province.
Seven airmen were involved in the mission and five died.
Gentz was a combat rescue officer, who enrolled in the ROTC program at Purdue University.
He was also a member of Boy Scout Troop 476.
“My project is a 48-inch tall, 30-inch wide memorial piece that is jet black,” Heumann said. “It will have two pictures of Joel – one in his scouting uniform and one in his Air Force uniform.”
The Eagle Scout candidate will include Gentz’ “vital statistics and a little about his devotion to Scouts, his community and his country,” Heumann said.
Across from it will be a Jet black bench with the pararescue insignia, 58th squadron insignia, and the motto “These things we do, that others may live.”
Heumann has designed the permanent memorial, which will be built at St. Paul’s Church in Chelsea.
“This is my way to thank Captain Gentz for his service as a Boy Scout and as an American Hero,” Heumann said in an email.
The memorial and bench will be placed across from each another so people can sit on the bench, look at the memorial piece and reflect not only on Joel’s dedication to service but also what they can do to serve others, Heumann said.
If you’d like to donate to Heumann’s project, a memorial fund has been set up at Chelsea State Bank and checks should be made out to the Joel C. Gentz Memorial Fund.
Checks can be dropped off or mailed to the bank.