A flagpole built and donated by a father of a solider and New Jersey native made it possible to fly the flag over aeromedical staging facility in Kandahar, Afghanistan.
August 21, 2012 – It took months of research and preparation to create the flagpole that was designed in Califon, New Jersey. The flagpole was erected at the Contingency Aeromedical Staging Facility (CASF) Aug. 1 and three days later, the first flag flew over the facility from sunrise to sunset. The 651st Expeditionary Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron conducted a retreat ceremony at the contingency aeromedical staging facility in Kandahar, Afghanistan on Friday, Aug. 3, lowering the colors from the flagpole and folding Old Glory in full ceremonial tradition. Upon the completion of retreat, the first flag to fly over the facility was folded in a triangular shape, in line with military tradition, with the union facing out. The flag was then sent to the United States, to the man who made flying the American flag at the facility possible.
In May, Staff Sgt. Kristy Wolfmayer, a 651st EAES pharmacy technician arrived to the CASF to begin her six-month tour of duty. Upon her arrival, she immediately noticed the US flag flying above the CASF, in a less than honorable fashion. “When I saw the flag, I was just amazed at how the flagpole was consistently falling over, leaning away from the vertical,” said Wolfmayer. “The pole was bent and was secured between two cement barriers with 550-cord. It was a creative way to temporarily display the nation’s colors, but we needed something more, especially for those who come through here.”
“For many, the flag is the first thing they see as they depart the helicopter and proceed to the ambulance. I felt as though the patients needed to see the flag and a strong sturdy flagpole, a true symbol for them to look up to and remind them that their country is behind them 100 percent and we support them.” – Staff Sgt. Kristy Wolfmayer
Within weeks of her arrival at Kandahar Airfield, she began thinking of how she could improve the existing structure. Fortunately for Wolfmayer, she had impeccable resources to aid her, so she made the phone call back home. She called her father, John Wolfmayer, a glazier out of Califon, New Jersey. A glazier is a person who installs commercial glass into large-scale buildings. Mr. Wolfmayer did some research and then got to work. He came up with a design and before long started fabricating a new flagpole for Kandahar Airfield.
“After he came up with a design, he had a two-week delay before fabrication could begin due to his job requirements,” said Wolfmayer. “But then he built it on a weekend and posted a picture of it on my Facebook page. I couldn’t believe it. It was taller than his two-story house.” Mr. Wolfmayer then had to disassemble the massive flagpole into six-foot pieces, package them up and mail them to Afghanistan.
On Aug. 1 upon receiving the large package, Wolfmayer and her team assembled the pole and readied it to fly its first flag. “It’s really inspiring for me to see my Airmen have so much pride in their mission, their unit, their Air Force and their country,” said Col. Elizabeth Harrell, 651st EAES commander. “To know that Kristy did all of this work to get the flagpole made and shipped here, Airman Holder dedicated his time to providing a secure foundation, and the rest of the unit pitched in to help assemble and raise the flagpole … it’s just amazing.”
“This event was significant because it was a project that I had worked on since my arrival. It connected people from the States to (Kandahar Airfield). Dedicating it and having a ceremony made it more symbolic than just installing the pole. Having a formal retreat ceremony with numerous members from the squadron as well as the 451st Air Expeditionary Wing command chief (Chief Master Sgt. David Brinkley) made it a special time to not only appreciate the pole, but also to appreciate my father and his donation as well as pay respect to the flag. It reaffirms the reasons we are here.” – Staff Sgt. Kristy Wolfmayer
Credit: MASTER SGT. RUSSELL MARTIN