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Flag Program Sends 'Piece of Pentagon' to Field Units

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Aug. 7, 2002 – DoD officials expect to mail 1,000 U.S. flags to military installations worldwide as part of a Sept. 11 terrorist attack observance initiative.

DoD had first offered to fly 500 American flags over the Pentagon and then send them to stateside and overseas military installations that requested them, said DoD press officer Navy Lt. Daniel D. Hetlage. Response to the Aug. 5 offer was so overwhelming, he remarked, that a total of 1,000 flags have now been ordered.

"The quickness and the amount of the response is amazing," Hetlage said, noting that officials are now compiling address lists of the requesting commands.

The program, he explained, is a DoD public affairs initiative, part of one-year anniversary observances of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist- hijacked airliner attack on the Pentagon that killed 184 people.

Correspondence from service members and DoD civilians stationed around the world seemed to cry out for something special to mark that anniversary and to demonstrate U.S. resolve to defeat global terrorism, Hetlage said. Although a section of the Pentagon was badly damaged in the deadly attack, he noted the 60-year-old building has been repaired and has become a symbol of the determination to prevail.

"Everybody wants a piece of the Pentagon and this is their piece," Hetlage explained. He expressed hope that most of the flags would be mailed out in time to be used during installations' Sept. 11 observances.

DoD will stop providing "Old Glory" after the 1,000 flags have been mailed out, he pointed out. After this, he noted DoD plans to accept flags submitted from the field, fly them over the Pentagon, and return them.

The 1,000-flag limit was arrived at "through resources and time," he said, noting that the Pentagon is awaiting the arrival of the first 500 flags from the supplier.

The program is a joint service effort, he pointed out, also noting the willingness of people to help.

A detachment of Navy journalism and photography students at DoD's Defense Information School at Fort Meade, Md., offered to help with the raising and lowering of flags and to help pack and ship them, Hetlage said.

The Defense Protective Service, he added, has also offered assistance.

"People want to be a part of it," he noted.

Flags that have been flown over the Pentagon will be sent to U.S. service members serving aboard ships at sea, in Afghanistan and at other overseas and stateside postings, Hetlage remarked.

This is especially appropriate, he pointed out, because the Sept. 11 terrorist assaults were "an attack on all of us," he concluded. "There is no 'rear' area anymore -- not in the war on terror."

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