Veterans Tribute of Oakland Township

5236 Adams Rd – Oakland Township, Michigan

Honoring all Veterans of our Armed Forces and their role in preserving our freedom.

The Veterans Tribute of Oakland Township (VTOT) is a non-profit corporation chartered by the state of Michigan and created solely for the construction and operation of a tribute in Oakland Township to the United States Armed Forces and Military Veterans. The tribute is located at 5236 Adams Road, Oakland Township, Michigan.

Our Leadership

VTOT Board of Directors

The VTOT Board of Directors are volunteers who take an active role in designing, building, upgrading, maintaining, hosting events and raising funds to support the mission of the Tribute. 

  • Mr. Dennis DaSilva, USAF
  • Mr. John Dery
  • Col (Ret). Mark Gerhard, USMC
  • Mr. Terry Gonser
  • Ms. Rebecca Gonser
  • Col (Ret) Timothy Reese, USA
  • Pastor Dominic Russo, Chaplain
  • Mr. David Sokol, USA
  • Colonel Mike Whitefoot, USAF

VTOT Board of Advisors

The VTOT Board of Advisors are volunteers who have agreed to provide counsel and advice to the Directors, and assist the Directors in finding support to complete the construction of the Tribute and create an Endowment that will preserve the Tribute in perpetuity. 

  • Mr. Terry Bishop
  • Mr. Michael Browe
  • Mr. Mark Brown
  • Mr. Tom Denek
  • Mr. Nick DeMiro, USA
  • Mr. Derek Gentile
  • Mr. Ben Hockenberry, USA
  • Mr. Brian Krupa, USN
  • Mr. John Modetz
  • Mr. Vito Pampalona, USA
  • Mr. Richard Shore
  • Mr. Adam Weiner, USN

The PAST, PRESENT and Future of the Veterans Tribute


An Idea
The idea of recognizing Veterans with a public monument originated with Mr. Terry Gonser, then the Supervisor of Oakland Township, in 2014. Gonser noticed that the only recognition of Veterans from the Township was a small punch board for WWII Veterans in the vestibule of the Township Hall. He was determined to do much more.

Mr. Gonser solicited the support of the developer, Dominic Moceri and the architect, Stephen McKay. Gonser came up with a concept that curved around the natural creek with glass panels through which the creek and landscaping could be viewed. The glass panels represented each of the service organizations with etchings of their insignias, and which were internally lit with LEDs for visibility at night. McKay refined the concept and put it to paper for presentation.

Together, they presented the concept to the Township’s Board of Supervisors on November 11th, 2014. Unfortunately, the Board members chose not to pursue the idea on Township property. The idea lay dormant for the next 18 months.
February 2016
The Idea Comes Together
In February 2016, another opportunity to recognize Veterans in Oakland Township arose. The Township and Moceri Developments reached a Consent Agreement that month over Moceri’s plans to develop the Blossom Ridge Senior Living facility on Adams & Gunn Rds. Part of the Agreement included Moceri donating five acres of land along Adams Rd., South of Silver Bell Rd., to be set aside specifically for the construction of a Tribute to our Veterans. Moceri additionally pledged $125,000 seed money to start the project if a private group would be formed to undertake the project.
February 2016
May 2016
The Board is Formed
With the encouragement of Terry Gonser in May of 2016, a small group of local military Veterans met with Dominic Moceri, Stephen McKay to set a path forward. In June, those Veterans formed the non-profit organization called the Veterans Tribute of Oakland Township, or VTOT as it has become known. A Board of Directors included Colonel (Ret.) Timothy Reese (US Army) and subsequently included Mr. Dennis DaSilva (US Air Force), Mr. David Sokol (US Army), Lieutenant Colonel Michael Whitefoot (US Air Force) and Lieutenant Colonel (Ret.) Frank Slaughter (US Army). Mr. Gonser formally joined the Board after he left office as Township Supervisor in November of 2016.

Building on the original concept from 2014, the new Board set as their goal to build the best public site in Michigan to recognize Veterans, and to make it a “tribute” rather than a “memorial” The essential point was to proudly recognize the achievements of the US Armed Forces in American history and the nobility of military service by Americans over the centuries. Their mission statement, now carved in granite at the Tribute, was and remains, “To honor the men and women of the United States Armed Forces who have served in the defense of our great nation and inspire future generations to serve.”

Furthermore, the Board determined that the Tribute would be designed, built, and maintained using only private funding. This would give the community the chance to show its support for the concept, without government involvement, in the long tradition of Americans who have always done great things on their own. The VTOT leased the five acre site from the Township for 99 years at the cost of $1, and agreed that it would be open to the local community for its use. The Board also determined that they would always be an all-volunteer, unpaid staff.

In addition to the six, grand glass panels portraying the military services of the United States, the less visible but most important part of the Tribute is the recognition of Military Veterans on brick pavers which form the walking paths and large base of the Tribute. On these laser-engraved, permanent bricks are the names and histories of thousands of military Veterans starting with the Continental Army and up to the current day. Anyone can purchase a paver to honor a Veteran or to express a patriotic sentiment.
May 2016
November 2016
Phase I
Phase I of the Board’s plan was to complete the design & engineering of the Tribute, launch a campaign to raise funds and seek support for the concept, and eventually to build it. The VTOT Board held its official ‘Kickoff’ for the campaign in the last week in November 2016 at the Royal Park Hotel in Rochester. Interest was high and many people came forward to offer their company’s services for the construction – the first being Tom Denek who pledged to install all the concrete footings/foundations.
November 2016
Local Support
Subsequently, many other local businesses and donors stepped forward to assure the success of the project. George Googasian donated our legal services, Matt Schwanitz of Giffels/Webster Engineering donated the civil engineering, Roy Rose of AEW Engineering donated the structural engineering services, Jon Yearwood of Rochester Hills Contract Glazing donated the glass panels, Shelly and Jim Green of Milton Manufacturing donated the steel support structures, Ken Matheis of Complete Automation donated the stainless steel glass frame structures, Clyde Jones of Centerline Electric donated the electrical work and supplies, and Doug Trost of Trost Irrigation donated the irrigation system. The Community Foundation of Greater Rochester agreed to manage the funds and help with fundraising, led by Johanna Allen. Dominic Moceri and his team played a key role in providing project management and contractors helping with various aspects of the construction. Many local residents and regional donors provided financial support as well.
August 2017
Support was overwhelmingly positive, and the Board quickly realized they would be able to begin construction in late 2017, only one year after unveiling the concept. Because of the great contributions of so many people & businesses, the design and engineering were completed by mid-2017 and construction of the Tribute was completed in less than 5 months. It was a roughly $2.5 million project.

The VTOT held an official Groundbreaking ceremony on August 31st, 2017 with large attendance prompted by a WJR radio interview on the Frank Beckmann Show. Over the next couple months, the VTOT, engineers and architects experimented with how best to locate the Tribute within the five acre site, finally setting on a layout that had the Tribute facing northwest so it would be clearly visible from Adams Rd. Contractors began grading and preparing the site in late November of 2017. Footings were poured during a very cold February 2018 and the large granite wall pieces and flagpole base were delivered in May 2018. With all hands on deck, construction was finished with landscaping in place by mid-July 2018.
August 2017
July 31st, 2018
The Board held the official Dedication for the Veterans Tribute on July 31st, 2018. Local political leaders, business leaders, and residents turned out in great numbers. Mother Nature did not cooperate that day, delivering a once in 1000-year rainfall throughout the afternoon and evening. Yet, 2500 people attend the ceremony with about 1500 guests present who stayed for the entire ceremony. There was no way to stay dry, and soon everyone accepted their fate and stayed happily dripping wet. First among equals were two rows of World War II Veterans who scoffed at idea of retreating from the weather!
July 31st, 2018


Since the Dedication in July 2018, the VTOT continues to thrive as an organization and as the best Tribute to our Armed Forces and Veterans in Michigan.   The VTOT and other local organizations hold events at the Tribute on National Holidays – Memorial Day, Independence Day, 9/11 Patriots Day, and Veterans Day – which are open to the public.  Some groups hold private ceremonies at the site as well, to include military promotions, graduation pictures – even one wedding has taken place at the Tribute. 

In 2019, the Board refined its Phase II goals to upgrade and expand the Tribute to include monuments commemorating great historical importance to the United States.  In October 2023, Phase II will be almost complete with the installation of the final two of five granite Historical Markers in the traffic island on which are engraved – the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, President Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address & 2nd Inaugural Address, and a series of famous quotes about military service.  Since 2018, the VTOT has also added a number of reflecting benches, walking paths and improved the landscaping.  Each of these new elements at the Tribute, like the initial Phase, were donated by families and businesses from the surrounding area.  Anyone interested in being a Phase II Sponsor can find opportunities and can contact the VTOT on the website.


As a privately funded organization, the VTOT has worked very hard to conduct events and maintain the Tribute site in a condition worthy of the history of the Armed Forces and military Veterans that it honors.  Over the period 2019-2022, annual operating expenses have averaged $25,000 to $30,000 – to cover utilities, repairs, licenses, support services, landscaping, ceremonies, and insurance.   Thus, Phase III of the overall concept is underway.  In Phase III, the VTOT Board has set the goal of building a financial endowment that will generate the funds to maintain and operate the Tribute in perpetuity without the need to continually raise funds.  The VTOT Board of Directors created a Board of Advisors in late 2022 to assist in these efforts.  In spring 2023, the Endowment is about 25% complete and the Board conducts various activities every year to reach 100%. 

To keep the dream alive, the VTOT needs the continued support of the local and SE Michigan community.  There are many ways to support the Tribute that can be found on this website, and we are always happy to hear good ideas from others!

Most importantly, the VTOT hopes that you will visit the Tribute and/or attend one of the annual events, and that you will be inspired by the service of those who have kept our Country free since 1776.  

The Veterans Tribute of Oakland Township Needs Your Help