By Spc. Elisebet FreeburgJuly 3, 2009
After receiving a Red Cross message that his grandfather was ill, Spc. Ronnie L. Kahler flew the U.S. flag April 25 above Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan in honor of his grandfather, a World War II veteran. Days later, Kahler presented the flag to his grandfather on his deathbed.
The flag of the United States of America universally represents justice, liberty and democracy, according to President Franklin Roosevelt's 1944 Proclamation No. 2605. Kahler, the driver for the Joint Sustainment Command-Afghanistan chief of staff, flew his flag in memoriam of his grandfather as part of a service the JSC-A provides for Soldiers who wish to fly an American flag for varied reasons. Holidays, birthdays or in memory of a loved one are just a few of the reasons flags are flown.
A Soldier of the JSC-A commanding general's personal security detail, Sgt. 1st Class Stephen Prebich, flew the first flag April 20 in honor of Sgt. Jan M. Argonish, who died 2007 in Afghanistan.
"He was engaged to the daughter of a friend of mine," said Prebich.
Together, components of the JSC-A have flown more than 200 U.S. flags since April. The 286th Combat Support Sustainment Battalion, a JSC-A element, flew 91 flags on Memorial Day alone.
"There were two of us on the flag pole, four folders, and one alternate," said 1st Sgt. Karri L. Bennett, senior enlisted Soldier for the 286th CSSB Headquarters and Headquarters Company.
Bennett emailed a flyer to 286th CSSB Soldiers, and also fastened flyers to doors at troop quarters informing them about flying flags Memorial Day. Troops purchased their own flags and then brought them in to Bennett.
"My arms got sore, but it was fun." said Pfc. Robin W. Larlee, a 286th CSSB food supply representative and one of the flag raisers.
Larlee directed all passersby to render honor as the flag-raisers hoisted flags one by one. She saluted all 91 flags.
Besides flags in tribute of family members or someone special, some flags flew for organizations that have supported troops or for patriotic reasons.
Previch believes this service helps boost the morale of troops. Soldiers may personalize the wording of certificates, which are signed by the commanding general and officially confirm the flag has been flown over Afghanistan.
"It meant a lot to [my grandfather]," said Kahler. "I'm the only one in the family that has carried on in the military, and he was pretty proud of me for that."
Kahler's grandfather passed away about three weeks later. He plans to continue raising flags for others who have also lost loved ones.