Fortuna serviceman returns for a short visit

Mary Bullwinkel

Beacon Correspondent

If you've driven down N Street (one block off Main Street) in Fortuna, you've probably seen his face on one of the banners honoring Eel River Valley military service men and women. Army Spc. Kellen Brown and wife Kim recently visited his parents in Fortuna, on leave from Fort Hood, Texas, where he is stationed. With assistance from representatives from the city of Fortuna, they both posed for a photograph with his banner.

The banner was removed from display just long enough for the photo session and was then re-installed. It is currently displayed at the corner of 11th and N Streets, near where Kellen's parents (Rus and Elma Brown) live. Rus is assistant fire chief in the Fortuna Volunteer Fire Department.

The banners in Fortuna honoring military personnel are developed and produced by local businesses Precision Intermedia and Gorilla Graphics and paid for by Eel River Empire Masonic Lodge #147. The Honor Street program was started locally in February 2011 when the first banner was hung. To date, the Masonic Lodge has made approximately 30 to 35 banners, which hang on utility poles on Main Street, N Street, and in other Fortuna locations.

"The banners serve as a reminder to the community of the men and women who serve, and allows the lodge to recognize and show its pride for members in the military," said Phil Grunert, who came up with the Honor Street Program title.

"The idea came from Susanville," he said. "A member of the Eel River Empire Masonic Lodge saw the banners displayed over there, and came back with a proposal that we do the same thing here, and we thought it was a great idea."

When discharged from the military, the local banners honoring them are presented to the individual service men and women. Eel River Valley members of the military represented in the Honor Street Program are from Loleta to Garberville.

If you know of someone in the service and would like to have them honored, call Grunert at 725-3637.

Photo by Mary Bullwinkel/Beacon

Army Spc. Kellen Brown and wife Kim stand next to the banner that is posted in Fortuna, honoring his military service.