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American, POW/MIA flags stolen from Washington County/Johnson City Veterans Memorial

Johnson City Press - 2/24/2017

American and POW/MIA flags at the Washington County/Johnson City Veterans Memorial were reported stolen Thursday.

Charlie Stahl, assistant city manager, said a parks and recreation employee noticed the flags missing shortly before 7 a.m.

According to the Johnson City police report, Franklin West was walking around the park picking up trash when he noticed the flags missing. Walking toward the flagpole, West then saw the lock was broken and the rope lying on the ground.

Allen Jackson, a local military historian, said he noticed the flag missing around 10 this morning while leaving the Mountain Home VA Medical Center.

"I drove by and noticed there were no flags up," Jackson said.

Once Jackson got closer to the flagpole, it was apparent someone had pried open a latch near the bottom of the flagpole to access the cable pulley.

"I've got a replacement 6-foot-by-10-foot American flag, but I'm going to have to get ahold of the local Rolling Thunder chapter to get a 4-by-6-foot POW/MIA flag," Jackson said.

"But still that's $170 for the American flag (and) probably a good $50 or $60 for the POW/MIA flag, not counting some of the repairs we're going to have to do to the flagpole with a new locking mechanism."

Brenda Barnette, chairwoman of the memorial's board, said the flag was likely taken sometime Wednesday night or Thursday morning.

"I was here Tuesday, and the flags were up there," Jackson said.

Roughly two years ago, Jackson said he received a call that the flagpole's cord was lying on the ground, but nothing was reported stolen then.

Both Barnette and Jackson walked around the memorial's perimeter to confirm no other damage was caused.

The idea for the memorial was first mentioned in 2006 by Bob Sobol.

After years of designing and planning, the Washington County/Johnson City Veterans Memorial was finally completed in 2011 and later dedicated on Nov. 11, 2011, at 11 a.m.

The memorial was damaged in April when an SUV crashed through one of the fences. Barnette said the wreck caused "thousands of dollars" in damage, but the damage has since been repaired.

The police report stated there are no known suspects at this time.

Jackson said Parks and Recreation staff would replace the lock on the flagpole by the end of the day.


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