Two United State veterans were inadvertently brought together after a structure fire broke out in a Texas home last week. One of those veterans also happened to be one of the responding firefighters at the time of the blaze. While there, the firefighter enacted a kind deed the other veteran won’t soon forget, recovering, retiring, and replacing the resident’s American flag after the fire left his home devastated.
Volunteer firefighter and Army veteran Colby McFadden was on the scene last week during the destructive fire that broke out in the home of Navy veteran Larry Hickson. Fox News reports Hickson had been 30 minutes away from his home when he got the call about the fire. As first responders worked to put out the blaze, McFadden took the time to tend to Hickson’s scorched American flag.
McFadden Reflects on the Scene During the Housefire
“It was actually one of the first things I saw,” the firefighter said to the outlet about the flag. He recalled, “The flagpole was just bent over, and the flag was lying on the ground, still clasped to the rope that it was strung on.”
Footage submitted by the firefighter shows the American flag’s edges charred and crinkled. The white of the stripes turned a charcoal brown-black, and the red was irreparably scorched and shredded. McFadden said he’d come across the tattered flag when he and other firefighters were enacting overhaul of the home. When the Navy veteran returned, the firefighter asked if Hickson wanted to have his flag properly retired and tended to.
Initially, the outlet states the homeowner didn’t think much of the loss of the flag at the time. But it was McFadden’s commitment to his work and the American flag that really struck Hickson.
“Just the look on his face and the emotion in his eyes and his voice when he asked me if I wanted to have him to retire that flag properly for me, it was like I just felt really a warm feeling, and it was a connection I made immediately with Colby,” the Navy veteran shared.
How Did the Firefighter ‘Properly’ Retire the American Flag?
It might surprise you, but the process of retiring a destroyed American flag is actually quite involved. It’s that fact that made McFadden’s deed during the housefire earlier this month that much more impactful.
During his appearance on Fox & Friends, the firefighter explained how his organization permanently retires destroyed flags. Sometimes, this process requires individuals in charge of retiring the flags to separate the blue star field from its stripes.
In order to retire this particular flag properly, McFadden worked with his local American Legion troop. He explained, “We will say the Pledge of Allegiance, render honors, and then we burn all the flags that we collected over the years to retire.”