ROTC cadets place 5,425 flags at RHS to honor Korean War dead on Memorial Day

By John Underwood / john@gulfcoastmedia.com
Posted 5/24/18

ROBERTSDALE, Alabama — Those traveling Alabama 59 to the beach or on their way out of town this Memorial Day weekend might have to look twice when passing by Robertsdale High School.

Both sides …

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ROTC cadets place 5,425 flags at RHS to honor Korean War dead on Memorial Day

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ROBERTSDALE, Alabama — Those traveling Alabama 59 to the beach or on their way out of town this Memorial Day weekend might have to look twice when passing by Robertsdale High School.

Both sides of the entrance to RHS along the highway are covered in U.S. flags, 5,425 to be exact. Dubbed “Operation Patriot59” each flag represents 10 Americans who lost their lives in the Korean War, that’s 54,250 if you don’t feel like doing the math.

“Since this is the end of the school year and this is our last project of the year, we thought this would be a great way to give our cadets a visual image that they can take with them,” said RHS Naval Junior ROTC Senior Instructor Lt. Col. Scott Meehan. “They can read about it or watch videos on You Tube, but this means so much more, particularly since placing all these flags is a lot of hard work.”

With assistance from Meehan and Instructor Edward “Theo” Theodoro, cadets began Monday and had all of the flags in place by Thursday, Meehan said. The project is designed to bring attention to the men and women who gave the ultimate sacrifice in defense of our freedom and each year the RHS NJROTC plans to commemorate a different war.

“Since this year is the 65th anniversary of the Korean War,” Meehan said, “we chose Korea as the first one. Our goal is to eventually honor all of the men and women who gave their lives in service to this country.”

A total of 6,000 flags were either purchased or donated from various veterans groups in the area, Meehan said. Throughout the weekend, cadets will monitor the display and replace any flags that fall over.

“American flags should never be allowed to touch the ground,” he said, “and any flag that does will be replaced with a new flag.”

In addition, cadets hoisted a POW/MIA flag in remembrance of the 7,704 unaccounted-or Americans of the Korean War. Above that will fly a full-sized American flag that flew over the Capitol building in Washington, D.C., which was donated by U.S. Rep. Bradly Byrne’s office.

Since they began setting up the display on Monday, Meehan said, the response from the public has been overwhelming.

“People have been driving by honking and waving,” he said. “It’s just been incredible.”