The Columbus-based Lima Company of the Marine Corps Reserves was deployed to the war in Iraq for seven months in 2005.

Twenty-three members of the company died during the deployment.

Their sacrifice is commemorated by Eyes of Freedom, life-size murals of the 23 fallen members of Lima Company, 3rd Battalion, 25th Marines.

In honor of National Military Appreciation Month, AMVETS Post 102 and American Legion Post 115 will bring the mobile Eyes of Freedom memorial to the Ohio National Guard Armory, 1121 S. Houk Road, Delaware, from May 29 to June 3.

The memorial will arrive in Delaware via a special procession from around 3:30 to 4 p.m. May 29, said Stefanie Hauck, communications officer for AMVETS Department of Ohio.

More than 100 motorcyclists will escort the memorial from the A.D. Farrow parking lot, near Tanger Outlets mall east of Delaware, to the armory. They will depart at 3 p.m.

The Delaware Fire Department will pay tribute with its ladder trucks, forming a memorial arch with the U.S. flag in downtown Delaware.

Opening ceremonies will take place at the armory at 7:30 p.m. and will include remarks from Delaware Mayor Carolyn Riggle, members of the Ohio National Guard and other local officials, Hauck said.

David Hyatt, first vice commander of AMVETS Post 102, has asked Delaware residents to line William Street waving flags from the Point intersection, East Central Avenue and East William Street, to Houk Road from 3:30 to 4 p.m. to pay tribute as the memorial arrives on its specialized tractor-trailer driven by R&L Carriers.

Two Delaware Gold Star fathers, Bob Hoffman and Jerry Myers, will participate in the procession.

Sgt. Justin Hoffman was a member of Lima Company. Army Spc. Zachary Myers died in Iraq in 2009.

Most of Lima Company's members were from central Ohio, giving the unit a "strong local connection" to Delaware, Hyatt said.

The Eyes of Freedom visit will "bring attention and memorial to the other casualties from Delaware as well, reaching out to families affected locally," Hyatt said.

During its stay, the memorial will be indoors at the armory, a wing of the building that also houses the city's YMCA. The armory has a separate entrance, and the memorial also can be accessed through the YMCA.

The May 29 ceremony will be held outdoors, weather permitting, Hyatt said.

Motorcyclists in the procession will represent 25 different organizations, he said, mostly veterans groups. The ride is open to all motorcyclists, who can join the group at A.D. Farrow to participate.

During the several hours between the procession's arrival at the Y and the ceremony, a public cookout will be held at the AMVETS post, 485 Park Ave. The AMVETS also will hold a pancake breakfast at the armory from 8 to 10:30 a.m. June 2.

Eyes of Freedom viewing hours at the armory are 7:30 to 8:30 p.m. May 29; noon to 8 p.m. May 30 through June 1; 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. June 2; and noon to 3 p.m. June 3.

Eyes of Freedom was conceived by then-Columbus resident Anita Miller in the wake of Lima Company's casualties in Iraq. She created it hoping it could be displayed in the Ohio Statehouse rotunda, which occurred in May 2008.

Mike Strahle, a Lima Company veteran wounded in Iraq, contacted Miller three years later, asking to host the memorial at a veterans support fundraiser he founded. That led to frequent tours of the memorial.

The murals will be at the Ohio Statehouse from May 21-27 to mark the 10th anniversary of its original appearance there.

For more information about Eyes of Freedom, visit limacompanymemorial.org.

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