Remembering 'El Alamo'
American Forces Press Service
FORT BRAGG, N.C., Sept. 3, 2003 The Texas flag that flew over the Alamo in San Antonio during last year's Sept. 11 remembrance ceremonies has added more history to its legacy.
The flag, returned this summer for permanent display where a small band of Texas volunteers defied Mexican dictator Santa Anna's army of thousands for nearly two weeks during 1836, now boasts seven months of battlefield duty in the war on terrorism.
The odyssey began when Army Sgt. 1st Class James Michael Mauldwin of the 7th Special Forces Group here learned his unit was about to deploy to Afghanistan. Mauldwin began searching for small Texas flags to put on his team's vehicle antennas. When his search came up short, the Alamo Society stepped in. The society offered Mauldwin and his fellow soldiers in Special Forces Operations Detachment-A 762 eight small Texas flags, as well as full-size U.S. and Texas flags that flew over the Alamo during ceremonies recognizing the first anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
After deploying in late September 2002, the team officially raised the Texas flag over its firebase, which was dubbed "El Alamo." The firebase, within two kilometers of the Pakistani border in Afghanistan's Paktika Province, saw heavy action during the next 56 days, receiving more than 59 rocket attacks.
When the firebase was closed in mid-December, Mauldwin transferred the colors to his vehicle for a seven-day journey to Kandahar. From there, the flag accompanied the team to Helmand Province for a special reconnaissance mission, then into Zabol province for an unconventional warfare assessment mission in January.
The "El Alamo Battle Flag," as it came to be called, flew once again from Mauldwin's vehicle when the detachment, along with six other special forces detachments, moved into Baghran Valley in Helmand Province the next month. Two days into the reconnaissance mission, the soldiers were ambushed and engaged in a 43-hour battle.
About a month later, the flag -- by then well known by U.S. forces throughout Afghanistan -- accompanied the team as it returned to Kandahar to prepare for redeployment to the United States. On April 13, El Alamo was honorably retired after seven months of combat duty.
This summer, Mauldwin and three of his children returned to San Antonio to return the flag to the Alamo Society administrator.
"The flag began its journey at the Alamo, and it's only fitting that its story should end there," he said. "The flag represents not only the men, women and children who died on Sept. 11, but also the Green Berets of the 7th Special Forces Group and their dedication to protecting freedom and freeing the oppressed around the world."
The flag is now on permanent display at the Alamo.
(Based on information provided by Sgt. 1st Class Michael Mauldwin.)