Harry and Marvin pick a flag

February 14, 2016
By

Patriot CornerOver the years my love of American history has grown into what I call my library.  Copies of the bound written word share space with an eclectic collection of Americana scattered among and about.

And while the WWII era and its “Greatest Generation” hold special places throughout, I had yet to acquire a 48 star flag that they fought under. I’ve always wanted one, seen many over the years, just never found the “right” one.

After a busy Ebay Christmas season I had accumulated a decent amount of “E-Bay bucks” credit and promised myself that I would use them for that ever elusive 48 star flag. Catch was they expired in a month.

So I started the search early. A nice one here, oh wait this one might do, yes bid on that one. Then I’d get busy, miss the auction ending and back to the beginning I went.

It had to have sewn, not printed stars but then what? Valley Forge, United Service Flag Co., Bulldog, Defiance? 4 x 6 or 5 x 9 ½ ? Verified WWII pedigree?

So there I was, eight hours to midnight on the day of credit expiration.  Had 3 on the watch list, but two were too large and so it was that by no more a process of procrastination and necessity that I clicked on “Buy it Now” for the 4 x 6 Bulldog.

The next day I got an email from the seller:

“Thank you so much. I will get this out in the mail Friday because I’m out of town till Thurs night.  Also I will send 3 little 48 star flags that was with this in a storage box my dad had… thanks again. Clark”

Something about that email struck me; storage box, dad, 3 small flags? There HAD to be a story there somewhere. But was it too intrusive to ask?

As those who know me already know, I’ve never been one not to ask for anything. So I sent a reply explaining my WWII respect, the book in development on the single .50 cal shell that sent one man in Holland on a two year quest to ensure that the crews of 6 Allied planes that crashed in the countryside around his village would be forever remembered, and asked him to send along any information, if he didn’t mind sharing, on the flag and his father.

I got the flag Monday and along with it a note that will forever make it a treasured addition.

It seems that Clark’s dad, Marvin, was in the Marine Corps when Alaska became a state in 1959 and ended the 47 year reign of the 48 star flag. As one who was in charge of raising the morning flag on base his superiors let him keep the last 3. Clark’s siblings have two, I now have one.

And while my flag may not have a battle pedigree, knowing that it is the last of its kind to be hoisted to the sky as reveille rousted the barracks is more than a story, it’s priceless.

A display box for it, Clark’s note, and those 3 small decoration flags is being built and will take its place next to the picture and burial flag of a WWII POW named Harry that sits atop the corner bookcase.

I was denied a personal meet when Harry died a year before I married his daughter, but I swear the grin in his pic has grown this past week.  As if he knows what’s getting ready to join him.

Heck I wouldn’t be surprised if he and Marvin had a conversation upstairs and steered me to that flag all along.

And with that, all I’ve got left to say is “Thanks guys, your help is duly noted.”

PUBLISHER NOTE:  An edited version of this column appears in the February 14, 2016 print edition of the Joplin Globe.

3 Responses to Harry and Marvin pick a flag

  1. clark kesler on February 14, 2016 at 11:51 am

    Thanks Geoff for this is really special, and really hit my heart as well. So special to see that flag on display, and is a honor. I’m touched and was moved to tears as I read the article. You are truly a special person.

    • Geoff Caldwell on February 14, 2016 at 5:46 pm

      Clark,
      The honor is all mine. It will get it’s own custom display box but wanted you to be able to see Harry’s corner before then.
      I’ll send another pic along once the display gets finished.
      Thank you again for being willing to share your dad’s story and being willing to let his flag pass to another home. I promise I’ll keep it safe and sound.
      Best,
      Geoff

  2. AFVet on February 14, 2016 at 8:49 pm

    Great story Geoff.
    One of the finest treasures this Country has is it’s veterans, those who say take me, I will serve.

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