Builder 2nd Class Dennis VanZuiden’s stepfather, former Iowa Army National Guardsman Larry Damhoff, died in 2010. Every Father’s Day since, VanZuiden has visited his dad’s grave.
That wasn’t an option this year. VanZuiden spent Father’s Day in Afghanistan, deployed with Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 15.
Instead, his unit arranged to fly Damhoff’s funeral flag above Camp Leatherneck on June 28, Damhoff’s birthday — a family tribute honoring two generations of service.
“It was pretty hard. It was a lot harder than I thought it would be,” VanZuiden said in a Defense Department news release. “Watching the flag fly overwhelmed me.”
Click below for a touching video of the ceremony and some of the Seabee’s daily activities at Camp Leatherneck, put together by Air Force Staff Sgt. John Archiquette. As VanZuiden works to hold back tears, he explains his dad’s influence on his career and the powerful emotions he felt holding that funeral flag for only the second time.
VanZuiden, 37, enlisted in the Navy in 2007, according to personnel records, and has twice been awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal.