One soldier’s war-torn battle flag has traveled around the world and is set to return to Afghanistan in 2013.
Allen Hoe is a Honolulu attorney and Vietnam War veteran. He has kept a flag that has traveled thousands of miles on a mission and helped forge 45 years of soldiers’ bonds between serving military members. Hoe bought this well-traveled U.S. flag back in 1967 at a souvenir shop in Vietnam, where he was stationed as a combat medic.
In May 1968, 18 soldiers were killed in Hoe’s unit and among the missing, was his platoon leader, 1st Lt. Frederick Ransbottom. Survivors of the battle vowed that when Ransbottom’s remains were recovered, the battle flag would be presented to Ransbottom’s family. Until then, the flag was in Hoe’s possession.
The battle flag accompanied a U.S. government search in Vietnam for Ransbottom in 1998. The flag also traveled to Afghanistan in 2004 for a Schofield deployment. The flag has also been to Iraq and Kuwait multiple times, as well as accompanying former U.S. Pacific Command head Adm. Timothy Keating in Iwo Jima for a conference and was flown atop Mount Suribachi. Most recently, the battle flag spent nine months with the 25th Combat Aviation Brigade making the rounds in Afghanistan. Col. Frank Tate of the 25th Combat Aviation Brigade said, “While entrusted with the flag, we sought to travel to every corner our brigade serves in to share the story, history and honor of the flag with as many of our soldiers as possible.”
Both of Hoe’s sons entered into military service. While Hoe’s son Nainoa was serving in Mosul, he asked if he could continue the legacy of the battle flag. Hoe said his son approached him saying, “’Dad, send me the battle flag. My soldiers want to carry it in honor of the men you served with and in honor of your platoon leader,’ who at that time was still missing in action.” Nainoa, an Army first lieutenant, was killed by a sniper’s bullet in Mosul, Iraq in 2005. However, within one year of Nainoa’s death, Ransbottom’s remains were recovered; upon hearing of the flag’s journey, the Ransbottom family told Allen Hoe the flag should remain with him. The flag is scheduled to return to Hawaii before heading back to Afghanistan.
Credit: Huffington Post