Monday, June 11, 2007

Flag Flying Half-Staff for Iowa’s Fallen Soldiers

On the day after Memorial Day, all flags in the state of Iowa will continue to be flown at half-staff in honor of Tipton native, Specialist David Behrle, who was killed by a roadside bomb on May 19th of this year. Behrle is Tipton’s, second Iraq casualty, will be buried in Tipton on Tuesday, where he joins Sgt. Aaron J. Sissel, who was killed on Nov. 29th, 2003, in Iraq when his vehicle was hit by enemy fire.

Spc. Behrle will be the sixth fallen Iowa soldier to be honored by a state-wide directive by Governor Culver, whose first executive order in office called for flags to be flown at half staff to honor fallen Iowa soldiers. Last Thursday, Culver ordered that all flags in the state be flown at half staff on Tuesday, May 29th:

The Governor's directive applies to all U.S. and state flags under the control of the state. Flags will be at half staff on the state Capitol Building and on flag displays in the Capitol Complex, and upon all public buildings, grounds, and facilities throughout the state until sunset Tuesday, May 29th, 2007. Individuals, businesses, schools, municipalities, counties, and other government subdivisions are encouraged to fly the flag at half staff for the same length of time as a sign of respect.

“Once the governor learns the date of the funeral, he will issue an order that the flags will be flown at half staff on the day of the respective soldier’s funeral,” said Brad Anderson, Culver’s press secretary.

Other directives have been issued by Culver for fallen Iowa soldiers who have died in the line of duty since the executive order was signed on Jan. 27, 2007. These include Iowa Army National Guard Command Sgt. Maj. Marilyn L. Gabbard, 46, of Polk City, Jan. 20; Army Reserve Cpl. Stephen D. Shannon, 21, of Guttenberg, Jan. 31; Army Reserve Pfc. Brian A. Botello, 19, of Alta, April 29; Army Pfc. Katie Soenksen, 19, of Davenport, May 2; Army Spc. David Behrle, 20, of Tipton, May 19.

At the federal level, the flag is displayed at half-staff on Memorial Day, in mourning for the death of designated principal government leaders and the death of the current or former President of the United States, or when directed by the President. There is no directive or code that honors individual American soldiers killed in the line of duty. Although, in the wake of President Bush’s recent order that all American flags be flown at half-staff for one week in honor of the 32 students killed at Virginia Tech, Army Sgt. Jim Wilt questioned Bush’s decision. Sgt. Wilt, who was stationed at Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan at the time, was upset by the irony of having to fly the flag half-staff for the 32 Virginia Tech students, yet the same honor was not bestowed upon Sgt. Alexander Van Aalten, a member of the his task force, who was killed in Hemland province during the same week.

"Individual states have taken it upon themselves to raise their flags to half-mast when one of their children dies. I think it is sad that we do not raise the bases’ flag to half-staff when a member of our own task force dies… If the flags on our FOBs were lowered for just one day after the death of a servicemember, it would show the people who knew the person that society cared, the American people care."

So what about the 49 fallen Iowa soldiers who were killed in the line of duty before Governor Culver was sworn into office and issued his first executive order? Maybe one day in Iowa, flags will be flown half-staff in their honor. Until then, the sacrifices of our native sons and daughters will not be forgotten.

In Memory of…

Killed in Iraq 2003: Marine reservist Sgt. Bradley Korthaus, 28, of Davenport, March 24; Marine Gunnery Sgt. Jeff Bohr, 39, of Ossian, April 10; Army Pvt. Kenneth A. Nalley, 19, of Hamburg, May 26; Army Pvt. Michael Deutsch, 21, of Dubuque, July 31; Army National Guard Pfc. David Kirchhoff, 31, of Anamosa, Aug. 14; Army National Guard Chief Warrant Officer Bruce A. Smith, 41, of West Liberty, Nov. 2; Army National Guard Sgt. Paul Fisher, 39, of Cedar Rapids, Nov. 6; Army Pvt. Kurt Frosheiser, 22, of Des Moines, Nov. 8; Army National Guard Sgt. Aaron Sissel, 22, of Tipton, Nov. 29.

Killed in Iraq 2004: Army National Guard Spc. Joshua Knowles, 23, of Sheffield, Feb. 5; Marine Lance Cpl. Benjamin Carman, 20, of Jefferson, April 6; Marine Cpl. Michael R. Speer, 24, of Davenport, April 9; Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Trace W. Dossett, 37, of Orlando, Fla., formerly of Wapello, May 2; Marine Pfc. Brandon Sturdy, 19, of Urbandale, May 13; Marine Pfc. Nick Skinner, 20, of Davenport, Aug. 26; Marine Cpl. Jarrod Maher, 21, of Imogene, Nov. 12; Army Spc. Daryl Davis, 20, of Spencer, Nov. 29.

Killed in Iraq 2005: Marine Sgt. Thomas Houser, 22, of Council Bluffs, Jan. 3; Marine Cpl. Nathan Schubert, 22, of Cherokee, Jan. 26; Army Spc. Dakotah L. Gooding, 21, of Des Moines, Feb. 13; Army Sgt. Eric Steffeney, 28, of Waterloo, Feb. 23; Iowa Army National Guard 2nd Lt. Richard B. ‘‘Brian’’ Gienau, 29, of Peoria, Ill., formerly of Tripoli, Feb. 27; Iowa Army National Guard Sgt.Seth Garceau, 22, of Oelwein, March 4; Army Sgt. Donald Griffin, Jr., 29, of Fort Lewis, Wash., family from Mechanicsville, March 11; Iowa Army National Guard Spc. John W. Miller, 21, of West Burlington, April 12; Robert J. ‘‘Jason’’ Gore, 23, of Nevada, April 21 (inactive National Guardsman working as private security officer); Army Spc. David Lee Rice, 22, of Sioux City, April 26; Army reservist Sgt. Casey Byers, 22, of Schleswig, June 11; Urbandale native Army Pfc. Eric Paul Woods, 26, of Omaha, July 9; Keven Dagit, 42, of Jefferson, Sept. 20; Cedar Rapids native Army Pvt. 2nd Class Dustin Allen Yancey, 22, of Goose Creek, S.C., Nov. 4; Iowa Army National Guard Sgt.Gregory Tull, 20, of Pocahontas, Nov. 25.

Killed in Iraq 2006: Army Reservist Maj. Stuart Anderson, 44, of Peosta, Jan. 7; Army Sgt. Nathan Field, 23, of Lehigh, Jan. 7; Iowa Army National Guard Sgt. Daniel Sesker, 22, of Ogden, March 20. 36. Des Moines native Army Spc. Antoine McKinzie, 25, of Indianapolis, March 21; Iowa Army National Guard Staff Sgt. Mark Wall, 27, of Alden, April 27; Marine Lance Cpl. William Leusink, 21, of Maurice, May 22; Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Jaime Jaenke, 29, of Iowa Falls, June 5; Army Pfc. William ‘‘Willy’’ Thorne, 26, of Hospers, Aug. 24; Iowa National Guard Staff Sgt. Scott E. Nisely, 48, of Marshalltown, Sept. 30; Iowa National Guard Sgt. Kampha B. Sourivong, 20, of Iowa City, Sept. 30; Army Lt. Col. Paul Finken, 40, of Earling, Nov. 2; Army Sgt. James Musack, 23, of Riverside, Nov. 21; Marine Lance Cpl. Clinton Jon ‘‘C.J.’’ Miller, 23, of Greenfield, Dec. 11; Army Cpl. Jonathan Schiller, 20, of Ottumwa, Dec. 31.

Killed in Afghanistan: Iowa Army National Guard Spc. James C. Kearney III, 22, of Emerson, Nov. 1, 2004; Army Staff Sgt. Shane Koele, 25, of Hartley, March 16, 2005; Remsen native Army reserve 1st Sgt. Tobias Meister, 30, of Jenks, Okla., Dec. 28, 2005; Army Spc. Travis Vaughn, 26, of Cedar Falls, Feb. 18, 2007.

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