Veteran distraught after flags were stolen from his yard

(WISH Photo)

CONNERSVILLE, Ind. (WISH) — A veteran who was trying to display some patriotism had it stolen, and unfortunately some of his neighbors weren’t surprised to hear it happened.

An American flag was cut away from the pole in Derek Holly’s front yard. It might seem like a simple case of theft. Flags can be replaced, but not the memories attached to them.

Traveling through his Connersville neighborhood, it doesn’t take long to realize people there are proud of the red, white, and blue.

“My stepfather, he was a veteran so we always try to have a flag,” said Mary Dubois as she sat on her front porch.

The last flag she hung got ruined by rough weather so she removed it. But just down the street there’s another pole missing Old Glory for a different reason.

“I noticed that the frayed rope. I looked up and the flags were gone and I walked a little closer and noticed that the rope had actually been cut,” said Holly. “It really cuts deep when someone has to steal a flag like that when there were other items of value around that they could have taken.”

Next to his front porch were several bikes and pieces of yard equipment. A flag isn’t worth as much as those items, but to Holly it’s actually worth more.

“I served five years in the Marine Corps, stationed in Cherry Point, North Carolina and did one tour in Afghanistan,” he said.

Hanging with his American flag was one representing the Marines. It was taken as well.

“It upsets me and a lot of memories come back from when I’ve served and who I’ve served with and who is no longer with us because of it,” said Holly.

His wife Latisha remembers the moment she realized the flag were missing. “I just knew from his reaction it was like, it wasn’t even anger it was like he was almost sick to his stomach,” she said.

That sickening feeling only grew when we told the Holly’s what happened around the corner from their home. A neighbor who flies a flag in her yard said it’s been stolen three times before.

Dubois was nearly a victim, too. At the base of her flag pole is a bald eagle decoration. One morning she found it had been moved.

“(Thieves) tried to get away with it but evidently it was too heavy,” she said.

Those stories won’t keep Holly from showing his patriotism. He already bought new flags, not just to wave proudly, but to send a message.

“Whoever took them just know that I’m not angry. If you return them, great. If you don’t, just understand it’s extremely disrespectful for what you’ve done,” he said.

To keep his flags better protected, Holly plans to switch out the rope for steel braided cable. He’ll also use pipe clamps to keep the flags secure.

He said if someone wants to take them now, they’ll need to be ready to climb 20 feet in the air.

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