By Capt. David Levasseur, 2nd BCT, 1st Inf. Div. Public AffairsDecember 13, 2006
AR RAMADI, Iraq -- "This flag has seen a lot of miles," remarked Sgt. Ronald Clary, Jr., as he looks up at an American flag streaming in the wind over the headquarters compound of the 1st Battalion, 77th Armor Regiment here.
The flag flying on that bright Veterans Day belonged not to Sgt. Clary, but actually to retired Chief Warrant Officer 5 Ronald Clary Sr., Sgt. Clary\'s father.
There is a lot of history in this flag. Chief Warrant Officer 5 Clary carried this flag with him on every flight he took as a U.S. Army aviator.
"This flag reminded my father of home while he was far away," Clary Jr. said.
The flag has been to Operation Desert Thunder, in Kuwait, and was with him as he and his co-pilot became the first AH-64 Apache helicopter to enter Albanian airspace in support of Task Force Hawk.
In another first, he also carried it on the first flight of an Apache helicopter to enter Polish airspace en route to participate in the Goraszka Air Show in June 2000.
It was carried by the elder Clary on multiple staff rides and visits to World War I and II battlefields such as Verdun and Normandy. It has flown or been displayed at even more of them.
The flag accompanied him on his last flight as an active duty pilot on Nov. 13, 2001.
Clary Jr. received the flag from his father on May 5, 2002 prior to his deployment to Kosovo. His father gave him the flag with the specific instructions - that he carry it with him on every mission on which it was operationally feasible and that he could only have it if he promised to personally bring it back.
Like a dutiful son, Clary Jr. returned the flag to his father after a successful rotation in November 2002.
The younger Clary is a tanker, currently working in the operations section of Headquarters Company, 1st Bn, 77th Arm. Reg. With ten years in the Army, he recently used his father's flag during his reenlistment.
Sgt. Clary, along with his wife, Heidi, and children, Ronald Clary III, age 7, and daughter Danielle, age 5, calls Schweinfurt, Germany home.
Clary Sr. again presented this flag to his son prior to his son's departure to Iraq in February 2004, for Operation Iraqi Freedom II. During this deployment he served at Forward Operating Base Omaha, attached to the 1st Battalion, 18th Infantry Regiment for the duration of the deployment.
During that year, the flag accompanied Clary Jr. on over 589 combat patrols and was again returned to his father in February 2005.
Clary Sr.'s flag is again in combat.
In August, he returned it to his son for his second deployment to Iraq.
"This flag gives me unbelievable pride, " said Clary Jr., "It means to me what it means to millions of people - freedom and hope."
Clary Jr. again carries the flag of his father, of his nation, on every combat patrol and mission.
He looks forward to the day when he returns it to his father, yet again, albeit with a few more miles and a few more stories on it."