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Friday, May 6, 2016

Flags commemorate sacrifice

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

One of the flags reinforced by Fort Scottian Claudia Wheeler is displayed. Wheeler has volunteered her time to make the flags strong enough to stand up to Southeast Kansas wins.(Ruth Campbell/Tribune)
Starting this past spring, an explosion of red, white and blue graced Skubitz Plaza.

The flags, purchased by 42 donors, were installed March 15 and will be removed Dec. 15, 2013.

The 3-foot-by-5 foot flags honor those who have served, are serving or in memory of someone in the armed forces. The flags are a reminder of those who gave and those who gave all, project chairman Ken Lunt wrote in a status report.

"They stepped forward bravely to protect our freedom and our way of life. To those who have lived by the standards of service, loyalty and pride, we owe a debt of gratitude," Lunt wrote, adding his thanks for donors' support.

Additionally, four flags have been reserved for Fort Scott's four Congressional Medal of Honor winners by an anonymous donor, Lunt wrote. The Medal of Honor winners are:

* Capt. Dean Hawkins U.S. Marine Corps. Born in Fort Scott, Hawkins was a leader of a sniper/scout platoon on Tarawa. On Nov. 23, 1943, he attacked and destroyed several Japanese machine gun emplacements' single-handedly. In so doing, he was wounded several times, refused replacements and continued to lead the assaults. Later he bled to death on the field.

The building housing the Fort Scott police and fire departments is named in his honor.

* Gen. Joseph Bailey U.S. Army, who in 1864 received a Congressional Accommodation for engaging Confederate forces in the battle for the Red River.

* Gen. George Pond U.S. Army, 31st Wisconsin Cavalry, was killed in heavy fighting on May 20, 1864, at the Drywood Battle 12 miles south of Fort Scott on the Kansas/Missouri line.

* Pvt. William Long Shore died during fierce fighting at the Battle Vicksburg. He was a member of the Illinois regiment. He was killed on May 20, 1863.

Except for Hawkins, all are buried in Evergreen Cemetery.

Gen. Gary Luck did not receive a Congressional Medal, however, he was extremely distinguished and at a very critical time was in charge of all U.N. forces in South Korea. Prior to retirement, Lunt wrote, Luck was sent to Iraq and Afghanistan by President Bush to train police and army units. Luck attended Fort Scott public schools and Fort Scott Community College.

Along with the contributors, Lunt wrote, the Fort Scott Area Chamber of Commerce played a key role in the flag project.

"Our mission was and continues to be that we recognize our military veterans and beautify a very focal part of the city," Lunt wrote.

A dedication will be held, but not date has been set yet.

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