Vietnam combat vet's flag recovered after Hurricane Ian

Bonita Springs , FL

I am a battalion chief with North Collier Fire. After Ian passed through the state of Florida, Fort Myers Beach Fire requested assistance. Several departments responded and Collier County deployed a strike team of water tenders to assist with water supply. Our crews were located at a temporary makeshift fire station and base camp in the center of Fort Myers Beach. While not responding to emergency calls, we would drive the vehicle around the island delivering water and ice to the residents. One afternoon I found Army Sgt. Ed Hill standing in the driveway of his flood-ravaged home. I noticed Sgt. Hill's 1st Cav hat and asked about his service. He proudly said Vietnam, with two Bronze Stars.

I also noticed a mud-covered flag sitting on his front porch. He related that he had recovered it from the flood. The flag had been flown over the nation's capital on Veterans Day in honor of his service. Sgt. Hill asked if I would take and have the flag burned at the VFW. He then handed me another flag that was from his father's casket. I took both flags back to the base camp that was operated by Emergency Disaster Services, which included a laundry service. The laundry crew agreed to try to restore the flag back to their original glory. Both flags turned out perfect!

Fire crews located at the camp from Palm Beach and St. John County, along with the Lee County Sheriff's Office, went back to Sgt. Hill's home to present the recovered flags to him. Sgt. Hill was extremely happy to have the flags back home, but it was huge for all the people involved. For days we have been sitting at the base camp trying to help the hurricane survivors any way we can. The flags were the perfect way for all first responders to rally around and know we were making a difference for at least one family. To find out, we not only helped one family, but a community, made us realize there was still hope!

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