When retired Marine Loren Vincent returned from church on Sunday night, he said that he remembers seeing his American flag flying proudly outside of his Turlock residence.
However, from the time that Vincent came home from his Sunday night church service to when he went outside to retrieve the morning paper the following day, someone had removed the American flag from its pole and burned it down into an almost-unrecognizable heap.
“I saw that the flag was down and thought maybe it flew away,” said Vincent. “It wasn’t until I saw the pile of ashes at the bottom of the pole that I knew what happened.”
Following the incident, Vincent called the Turlock Police Department and filed a report. When officers arrived at the scene, however, there was unfortunately nothing that they could do but take down Vincent’s information.
According to Turlock Police spokesperson Officer Mayra Lewis, the next step for TPD would be to let the community know about the isolated incident in hopes of catching the culprit or preventing similar acts from happening.
“If anyone has any information or knows of incidents that are occurring of this nature, they are encouraged to contact the police department,” said Lewis.
With the burnt remains of his American flag still melded to his driveway, Vincent said that although he did not believe this incident was a personal attack, he still was unable to explain the circumstances of the flag burning, especially in his quiet cul-de-sac where a bright light is always shining on the flag pole.
“My neighbors didn’t see anything, but they are about as mad as I am about it,” said Vincent. “You don’t mess with a military man’s flag.”
One of Vincent’s neighbors is United States Air Force retiree Joe Nance, who after finding out about the burnt flag also called the police to verify his neighbor’s report.
“It’s nerve-wracking that people are willing to do that,” said Nance. “It really ticked our whole neighborhood off, but it also scared us a little bit that someone had the audacity to come into the cul-de-sac and do it, especially in Turlock.”
Nance said that he considers the cul-de-sac to be a quiet neighborhood, with the last bout of criminal activity having taken place approximately three decades ago.
“This is all definitely surprising,” said Nance. “From a patriotic point of view, don’t mess with my country’s flag. The price of freedom is not free and that’s what this flag represents.
“I would die for it, and I will fight for it,” continued Nance.
Immediately following the incident, both military men made plans to replace the destroyed remnants and on Tuesday they successfully raised and saluted Vincent’s new American flag. Nance also said that he has plans to scrape up the burnt heap that still remains from the Vincent’s previous flag.
“We just want to show them that they cannot bring it down,” said Nance. “As long as there are veterans and Americans, they are not going to stop this flag from flying.”