Man turns Lake Tapps COVID project into memorial for over 500 service members

LAKE TAPPS, Wash — One man’s COVID quarantine project for his wife has evolved into a place where active-duty military members, veterans, and soldiers captured or killed in the line of duty can be honored and remembered. The “Veterans Chair” honors all who have or continue to serve our country regardless of the era, branch of service, or base.

The chair was built back in 2020 and its creator-now-caretaker Duane Bratvold tells KIRO 7 News that he lost interest in completing the chair midway through but after hearing local veteran, Loren Kissick, died, Duane completed the chair and wrote his name followed by “American Hero” on the back. He then invited all military members past or present to add their names or the names of their comrades and from there, the chair went “viral” as Duane puts it.

That year over 20 boats lined up outside of Duane’s lake lot to add a name and now three years later this chair holds over 500 names! Among those Duane says there are 19 Bronze Star and 51 Purple Heart recipients. There is even one WWII Medal of Honor recipient. Duane says his name was added by the fallen soldier’s granddaughter.

Duane calls himself the chair’s “caretaker” and says in the last three years it has taken on a life of its own. He adds that “it honors, it heals, it teaches, and it contains memories of those long gone.”

In an essay Duane wrote about the chair’s history, he says in part, “It is said a man dies twice. Once when he takes his last breath, and once when his name is spoken for the last time. Once a year I stand at the chair and read out loud every name on the chair. Making sure I do my part to not forget them. This is the Chairs story that continues to be rewritten every time a new name is added. "

The chair can be found about a half mile north of Fun Kayak Rental on Lake Tapps and is open for new signatures through the rest of the summer.

Comments on this article