Sunday, November 4, 2007

In Case You Missed It, Flags Flown Half-Staff for Fallen Iowa Soldier Yesterday

If you did not know that all flags in the state were to be blown at half staff on Saturday, you are not alone. I also am guilty of not knowing that Gov. Chet Culver had issued an executive order in honor of Army Sergeant Joseph Milledge, 23, a native of Glenwood who died on October 5th, 2007, from wounds suffered in Iraq. I knew that Milledge’s funeral was planned for yesterday, but I assumed the governor’s directive would carry over to Monday, since most government buildings in Iowa are closed on Saturday.

Assume no more, for Culver and Lt. Gov. Patty Judge have developed a proactive tool on their newly refurbished website that will provide flag notifications via email. The purpose of Culver’s first executive order in office is to recognize and honor Iowa’s fallen sons and daughters, but unfortunately, effectively communicating this directive to Iowans has had a few snags since Culver signed the order in January.

In a Des Moines Register column in Aug., John Carlson related the incident of a “borderline disgusted” caller, who was upset by the number of flags that were not being flown half-staff in honor of Marine Sgt. Jon Bonnell, Jr., 22, of Fort Dodge, who was killed in Iraq on August 6, 2007. P.J. Sesker Green, the aunt of Sgt. Daniel Sesker, an Iowa National Guard soldier killed last year, asked a number of businesses why they were not flying their flags at half-staff. So Sesker-Green stopped at a few places and asked questions. "I told them the governor asked everybody to do it on the day of a funeral as a sign of respect," she told Carslson over the phone. "Some people told me they'd never heard such a thing. Some told me they didn't know anything about the Marine being buried that day. I think all of them were embarrassed."

Milledge was buried last month in Washington state, the home of his wife, Amanda. A memorial service was held for his friends and family in Glenwood Saturday, where 200 people gathered in the Glenwood High School gymnasium to pay their final respects and honor Milledge, who was killed Oct. 5 in Baghdad, Iraq, when insurgent forces detonated an improvised explosive device while he was on combat patrol.

Survivors include Milledge’s wife of three years, Amanda, and his one-year-old son, Joseph, Jr. Milledge’s family said in a statement: “Joe loved his wife and son very much. His son will know his daddy was a hero and died for what he believed in.”

Joseph Milledge enlisted in the Army in August 2003, about a year after graduating from Glenwood High School. After training in Texas, he was sent to Iraq about a year later for his first tour of duty. After that tour ended in 2005, Milledge was stationed in Germany before being sent to Iraq for a second tour. Milledge was assigned to the 3rd Squadron, 2nd Stryker Cavalry Regiment, in Vilseck, Germany, according to a news release from the Department of Defense. He is the 62nd person with ties to Iowa to die from injuries in Iraq or Afghanistan since March 2003.

No comments: