FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. — For Missouri resident Mike Siegmund, the American flag flown over Fort Leonard Wood on Oct. 7 held significant importance — it was his father Robert’s internment flag.
According to Paul Goodspeed, an operations specialist with the Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security, individuals can have their personal American flag flown over the installation at the Maneuver Support Center of Excellence Plaza to mark a milestone or to honor a loved one.
“The majority of the reasons personal flags are flown over Fort Leonard Wood is because this is the area a service member has done their last duty or they are retiring. I’ve also flown a few honoring a spouse. Marines retiring here almost always fly a flag here,” Goodspeed said. “We do this because we have the means to honor those people. It is out of respect for our service members.”
Siegmund said his father, Robert, joined the Army and attended Basic Combat Training at Fort Leonard Wood, in 1943.
“When his training was done, he was sent to the Pacific Theater, where he was injured by shrapnel,” Siegmund said.
Having his father’s internment flag flown over Fort Leonard Wood was a long time in the making and not even a consideration for Siegmund, as the flag had gone missing for 43 years.
“When dad passed away, I was 17,” he said. “It was in 1973, and my mom had the flag until 1975. It got handed around and people lost track of it.”
Four years ago, Siegmund found his father’s flag while helping his sister move out of her house.
“I was going through the remainder of the stuff that was left. In one of the rooms, there was an old cedar chest buried in clutter and when I got into the chest, I found dad’s flag,” Siegmund said.
Siegmund had the flag professionally cleaned and set about the task of getting it folded.
“I took it to various organizations but I couldn’t get anybody to fold it. When I moved to Missouri, I decided to ask the folks at Fort Leonard Wood if they would fold it for me and the fort was kind enough to go beyond that and have the flag flown over the base,” he said.
For Siegmund, seeing his father’s flag fly over Fort Leonard Wood was an emotional experience.
“I am truly honored, and I think my dad would be, too, that his flag got shown such honor. It was more than I ever hoped for,” Siegmund said. “My dad did boot camp here and to bring that flag down here and see it flown is the greatest honor I have ever had. I cannot express enough thankfulness.”
The honor was not Siegmund’s alone. For the flag detail responsible for Reveille and Retreat on Oct. 7, getting to raise the flag at the beginning of the day and then present the flag to a family member at the end of the day was an honor and a privilege.
One of those Soldiers was Staff Sgt. Austin Israel, NCO in charge of the flag detail and a student in the Engineer Advanced Leader Course. He said being on the detail is a rewarding experience.
“It is a very proud moment every single day that we do it, but getting to pass the colors to another American is one of the greatest things we can do to ensure that we are serving properly by recognizing other’s sacrifice,” Israel said.
Staff Sgt. Toni Steele, a member of the flag detail, who is also attending Engineer Advanced Leader Course, echoed Israel’s sentiments.
“I would volunteer any day for something like this. I have a lot of family members in the military and… being on the flag detail means a lot to me,” Steele said. “Being able to display that flag on a post where somebody did their training in the past is a huge honor and being able to take that flag down and present it to a family member is amazing to me.”