By Floyd Ingram/Chickasaw Journal
HOUSTON – All American flags are special, but one presented to the Chickasaw County Heritage Museum is particularly meaningful: It flew in Afghanistan when the local National Guard unit served there.
Maj. Thomas Howell of the 223rd Engineering Battalion presented an American flag to the museum on Nov. 9. The flag flew at the Operations Center of Bahala Compound, the National Guard base in Kandahar, Afghanistan.
The flag was raised in a ceremony at the museum. It was lowered at sundown, will not be raised again and will become part of the formal archive at the museum.
“I saw where the museum was doing a lot of things on the Chickasaw Journal’s website when I was over in Afghanistan and contacted them about getting a flag,” said Howell. “They jumped at the opportunity and this is the culmination of that effort.”
Howell told the crowd gathered at Friday’s dedication ceremony flags flown at the Operations Center also honored fallen heroes.
“Every time we had a soldier fall in one of the units based at Kandahar, they lowered the flag to half-staff,” said Howell. “It was a reminder to everyone at the base and it was a way to honor those fallen heroes.”
He said the flag did not fly at full staff until the fallen hero’s casket had left the base on the journey back to the United States.
Howell said he would love to say the flag presented to the Museum flew on a day with no casualties, but he was not for certain.
“I am sad to say I saw flags at half-staff too many days at Bahala Compound,” said Howell. “I would like to think this flag can honor and remind this community of all those who served from this area and all who came back home and those who didn’t.”
Larry Davis, president of the Chickasaw County Historical and Genealogical Society, said the flag would occupy a special place at the museum.
“We graciously accept this gift and recognize what it means to our community,” said Davis. “Many local men and women sacrificed so much to serve our country in Afghanistan and this will become a cherished part of our history.”