Fans attending the Jan. 28 Springboro home basketball game against Franklin witnessed an emotional ceremony between the junior varsity and varsity games, an event that took senior Jonas Yu a year to plan and coordinate. A cadet in the school’s JROTC program, Jonas was thinking about a service project for his Eagle Scout requirement last January when he saw a military honor chair to acknowledge veterans at a University of Dayton basketball game.
“My grandfather was a veteran of the Vietnam War and had recently passed away, so I was thinking about veterans, then about the Prisoners of War (POW’s) and those Missing in Action (MIA’s) who aren’t recognized. I talked to my JROTC instructor about a ceremony for them, and, in planning that, I realized it would make a good Eagle Scout project, too. “That chair at UD was to honor those who’d returned, but inspired me to think about those who didn’t return,” he recalls. “I started doing research and found out about chairs for POW/MIA’s, and services to honor them. “I knew it would be a good way to show a side that doesn’t always get as much attention or the ceremonies that welcome returning military.”
Combining his military and Scout training and contacts, he put together a ceremony proposal complete with narration, JROTC, color guard, and taps in addition to the chair and symbolic hat, to present to and hopefully get approval from the Boy Scouts. The proposal gained acceptance for his Eagle Scout service project, but “I still had to get approval from the school administration, the athletics director and events coordinator, and the JROTC unit to make sure we could do the ceremony,” he said.
“And, I needed funding, which came through several sources, including the Mason Post of the American Legion and individual donors. “The coordination between the Legion, school and the JROTC was a good experience — I was so glad they were all on board and on the same page right away."
“I decided to use a folding chair so that it could be stored and used at various events in the basketball stadium. I’ve been told that it will be put out for selected games — big rivalry games, and military night where past and present military are recognized.” Jonas painted the POW/MIA logo on the chair and planned the ceremony, then set the date with the various school departments and JROTC. “It took a full year to plan and coordinate — a lot of work, cooperation, and a little bit of luck,” he said.
The logistics were crucial to his ceremony plan, which debuted between the Springboro-Franklin junior varsity and varsity games. “Just before the color guard came out for the national anthem, the chair was set up and someone marched out with a military hat; the hat was placed on the center of the chair, and, right after the placement, a local Boy Scout played taps.
“I narrated a shortened version of the POW ceremony that explains the meaning of the colors and the symbol of the hat and emptiness of the chair, the symbol that it will remain open until they come home — and then, the chair was presented to the crowd, which went incredibly quiet and respectful.
“It was completely silent through the ceremony, and I appreciated the sense of patriotism and reverence. I loved that the focus was on those who couldn’t be there for the moment. “The color guard presented right after the ceremony, and the chair stayed for the duration of the game, off on the sidelines.”
The son of Springboro residents Shaun and Jennifer Yu, Jonas will graduate this year and plans to attend a four-year college in ROTC, then commission into the Army when he graduates.