ShareThis Page

2 Fayette Vietnam vets keep watch on Old Glory

| Friday, Jan. 17, 2014, 12:01 a.m.
Evan R. Sanders | Daily Courier
The U.S. flag flying atop the Connellsville Post Office on Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2014, is showing signs of wear. The stripes are beginning to separate as evidenced in this photo. A new flag is reportedly on order.

For Fayette County Vietnam veterans Chester Prinkey, 68, and Lanny Golden, 66, seeing the U.S. flag flying from a pole and in bad condition upsets them.

“There should be a law,” said Golden, of Uniontown, referring to the U.S. Flag Code, which is not a law, and to U.S. Supreme Court decisions allowing protesters to burn and deface the flag.

“I dropped my blood on the ground beneath that flag,” said Prinkey, of Dunbar Township, adding the flag is much more than just a piece of cloth to him.

Golden said the issue of damaged flags came to a head for him after he returned from a burial in a national cemetery in West Virginia for the cremated remains of veterans who had been recently identified through the Missing in America Project, or MIAP. On his way home, he drove by a service station in Uniontown displaying an enormous flag that was tattered.

Golden said he called Prinkey, who came down to see for himself. They noted several flags in the area that were in poor shape.

Golden asked “a high city official” in Uniontown, who turned to an aide and told him to make a note of it.

More than 30 days later, the veterans found nothing had been done.

Golden said he went inside the business with the large flag and suggested to the employees that they tell their boss to take down the tattered flag. He also notified all of the neighboring businesses. Since then, all have been replaced.

Prinkey knows the cost of replacing or repairing a large flag. He and other veterans care for the large 30-foot by 60-foot flag at the Uniontown Mall. That flag was purchased at a cost of more than $1,700 and included a 40 percent discount. Robert Eberly, a Fayette County philanthropist, made a large donation toward the purchase of that flag before his death.

The flag has since suffered damage. It was taken down, returned to the manufacturer and repaired at a cost of $400. The repair did not hold and the manufacturer said it would be repaired at no further cost.

Since spotting those damaged flags in 2013, both men have begun to watch as they drive around. Golden pointed out that the flag flying over the Connellsville Post Office had some damage. Attempts to contact the postmaster were not successful, but a clerk at the desk said the postmaster was aware of the problem and had ordered a new flag.

Golden said he gets upset when he hears about “minorities” complaining about the Ten Commandments monument at Connellsville Area Junior High School.

“There were just two of them (who said they were offended and sued to have the monument removed) and they won't even give their names,” Golden said. “Well, me and Chet (Prinkey) are offended.”

He also gets upset about atheist groups who press for the removal of religious symbols from veterans' memorials around the country.

“There should be a (voter) referendum,” Golden said, adding those in the majority also have rights.

To read the United States Flag Code, visit

Karl Polacek is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at or 724-626-3538.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.