The Turlock Post 5059 Veterans of Foreign Wars Ladies Auxiliary received an unforgettable – and unexpected – Independence Day present this year, when an American flag and certificate arrived as a thank you gift from soldiers in Afghanistan earlier this week.
“So that all shall know, this flag was flown in combat, on mission, in the face of the enemy, and bears witness to the capture, interrogation, and detainment of terrorist forces threatening the freedom of the United States of America and the World,” reads a certificate that accompanied the flag.
The flag arrived unheralded at the home of VFW Ladies Auxiliary President Rose Elliott on Monday, direct from Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, where it flew. The flag waved over the headquarters of Task Force Dark Knight, 321st Military Intelligence Battalion, a cluster of U.S. Army Reservists with homes ranging from New England to Hawaii.
“I was surprised, I was tickled to death,” Elliott said. “This doesn’t happen every day.”
In fact, since the April 1946 founding of the Turlock VFW Ladies Auxiliary, this is the very first time the group has received a flag flown in battle.
The flag was sent in recognition of countless aid packages the VFW Ladies Auxiliary has mailed to soldiers abroad over the years, more than 120 boxes in the past year alone. The most recent shipment went out just a few months ago, 38 boxes packed with necessities journeying from Turlock to Afghanistan.
“We get a lot in those boxes,” said Charlene Ford, VFW Ladies Auxiliary treasurer.
The VFW Ladies Auxiliary collects and mails socks, deodorant, toothbrushes, shampoo, gum, lip balm, “and goodies,” Elliott said.
Just a few weeks ago, the VFW Ladies Auxiliary shipped 350 pounds of See’s Candy to soldiers abroad, showing just how good those “goodies” can be.
“They appreciate it when they get it,” Ford said.
The aid packages are just a part of the VFW Ladies Auxiliary’s wide range of community service, which includes supporting local youth groups, hospitals, cancer research and holding ice cream socials for retired veterans.
“We try to do our best for our veterans,” Elliott said.
The VFW and VFW Ladies Auxiliary raises money for their service efforts, in part, through their annual hamburger booth at the Stanislaus County Fair, world famous for its special “goop” sauce.
But while the fair is just a handful of days away, today the VFW Ladies Auxiliary is taking time off from planning to celebrate the Fourth of July by participating in the Turlock Independence Celebration Parade. They will present a float in the parade and provide the honor guard for the celebration.
And as soon as that’s done with, it’s off to the frame shop to procure a shadowbox to display the VFW Ladies Auxiliary’s new flag and certificate – the best thank you gift a veterans’ group could ever get.
“We love our flag,” Elliott said.
To contact Alex Cantatore, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 634-9141 ext. 2005.