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Iowan Creates Flag for Honored War Veterans
By Lindsay Pohlman
Daily Correspondent October 21, 2002
With the support of Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa and Rep. Tom Latham, R-Iowa, one Iowa man's idea has made it all the way to Capitol Hill. With a bill passed Oct. 16, U.S. Army veteran Sgt. Bill Kendall of Jefferson will now be known as the man who created the nation's Medal of Honor flag.
The Medal of Honor is the U.S. armed services' highest award for valor in action against an enemy force.
Now, all recipients of the medal will also receive a flag.
"I thought [the recipients] needed some credit," Kendall said.
"The Medal of Honor is reserved for the bravest of our fighting men and women," he said.
"Obviously the medal in and of itself is the most important demonstration of that, but an individual being able to fly a flag daily to show how they've been honored for the sacrifice they've made is an additional public display that I thought was legitimate."
Kendall said he got the idea for the flag 10 years ago, when he was working on the military's honor roll in Greene County.
During his work, Kendall said he realized Darrell Lindsey, a Jefferson native and recipient of the Medal of Honor, wasn't on the list.
Lindsey, a B-26 pilot in World War II, was awarded the medal for a 1944 bombing raid where he sacrificed his life to save his crew.
"I thought we should do something special for him," Kendall said.
Kendall designed the flag to fly on Memorial Day over a statue of Lindsey, which sits at the Greene County Courthouse.
Much to Kendall's surprise, when Latham spoke in Jefferson on Memorial Day 2001, the Congressman liked the flag.
"[Latham] introduced a bill proposing this be the official Medal of Honor flag," he said.
The bill was included in the Department of Defense package, which passed in the House at the end of June.
Grassley said the bill is currently awaiting approval by President Bush.
Though the U.S. Department of Defense will eventually be responsible for distributing the flags, the U.S. Medal of Honor Society has appropriated funds to provide the 143 living Medal of Honor recipients with a flag, Kendall said.
Michael Dale, president of the ISU College Republicans, said he thinks adding a flag to the medal adds more honor to the award.
"I support Latham and Grassley on this move," he said. "I think it's a matter of our Iowa politicians taking a break from D.C. and doing something extra special for Iowa."
Latham said he is proud of Kendall for designing the flag.
"This flag truly represents the recipients of this medal," Latham said in a press release. "They are the people that make this nation the land of the free and home of the brave."
Kendall is a winner of the Silver Star, three Bronze Stars and three Purple Hearts. He said he doesn't need any recognition for designing the flag.
"I'll leave that up to Congress, Mr. Latham, and Mr. Grassley," he said.
"I was kind of just the little piece of sand on the bottom. It takes a lot of people to get something like this accomplished."
© 2002, by Iowa State Daily
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
OFFICIAL MEDAL OF HONOR FLAG
LEGISLATION APPROVED BY THE U.S. HOUSE
IOWA VETERAN'S IDEA FOR FLAG RECEIVES UNANIMOUS APPROVAL
WASHINGTON, DC - The United States House of Representatives approved legislation establishing an official flag for the Medal of Honor in a vote Monday evening. By a vote of 380-0 the House achieved the first legislative step for the idea of Jefferson, Iowa resident and U.S. Army Veteran Sgt. Bill Kendall as he personally looked on from the gallery of the House Chamber in the United States Capitol Building.
"I am just overwhelmed by all of it," commented Kendall. "This is really such an honor to see this idea advance this far."
Kendall, a member of both the VFW and American Legion, set out years ago to establish a Medal of Honor flag to recognize the recipients of the highest U.S. Armed Services award for valor in action against an enemy force. Kendall, a winner of the Silver Star, three Bronze Stars, and three Purple Hearts, during his years of service in the U.S. Army, felt that the winners of the medal deserve such a flag to distinguish the remarkable achievements by the group of everyday people.
"This flag truly represents the recipients of this medal. They are the people that make this nation the land of the free and home of the brave," said Iowa Congressman Tom Latham, the author of the legislation, during his remarks on the House Floor. "I am so proud of Sergeant Bill Kendall for designing this flag and bringing this idea to our attention."
Latham introduced the legislation in May after learning of Kendall's idea and efforts to establish an official flag. Bill designed a flag and had it produced, so it could be flown in honor of recipients and over a monument honoring a Jefferson native and Medal of Honor recipient, Darrell Lindsey. Lindsey, a B-26 pilot in World War II, was honored with the medal because of his heroism in saving his crew's lives while sacrificing his own during a bombing run over Europe in 1944. Kendall's design is of thirteen white stars on a field of light blue with the wording "Medal of Honor" - similar to the design of the actual Medal.
The legislation will now need approval by the United States Senate before it can go to President Bush's desk for his signature making the bill into law.
"I know that my colleagues in the Senate will do the right thing and quickly consider this legislation," said Latham. "Bill's idea is a fitting way to honor those who have gone above and beyond duty for country," concluded Latham.
Des Moines Register Article:
Jefferson man designs Medal of Honor flag
By John Carlson
Rick Morain and Congressman Latham
Jefferson, IA - Mention the Medal of Honor, and Bill Kendall starts talking about the guys from the old days.
There's Bob Howard from Alabama and Roger Donlon of Arkansas, Roy Benavidez from Texas and Fred Zabotisky of New Jersey. And the Missourian, George Sisler, who received the medal posthumously.
"I knew and served with all of them in Vietnam", said Kendall, a retired Army First Sergeant from Jefferson who's spent a lot of time lately thinking about winners of America's highest military award. "They're all common, everyday guys who did some remarkable things."
Then he mentions Jefferson native Darrell Lindsey. Kendall was 9 years old when Lindsey, a B-26 pilot, was shot down over France. Lindsey died while saving the lives of his crew, and he, too, was awarded the Medal of Honor.
There's clearly something extraordinary about each of the 3,400 men who have won the medal since it was first awarded in the early days of the Civil War. Each man risked or gave up his life to save others in the most horrendous combat conditions imaginable.
They get the medal, sure, and it goes in a box, glass case, maybe a dresser drawer. Kendall believes something is missing.
"There is no Medal of Honor flag," he said. "I want to do something about that."
So the 67-year old Kendall, himself a winner of the Silver Star, three Bronze Stars and three Purple Hearts, designed such a flag. Thirteen white stars on a field of light blue, like the medal.
He sent his design off to a North Carolina company that agreed to manufacture a standard 5-foot-by-8-foot flag. It will have its ceremonial raising for the first time Monday - Memorial Day - at the Jefferson Cemetery.
Kendall also asked the company to make seven smaller, 3-foot-by-5-foot Medal of Honor flags. One of those will fly seven days a week on a pole on the Greene County Courthouse lawn, just a few feet behind a monument honoring Lindsey.
"A lot of people today, and not just young people, have no idea what the Medal of Honor is or what it means," Kendall said. "This flag will be a reminder."
The flag in Jefferson is just a start. Kendall is hoping to see that it's designated by Congress as the official Medal of Honor flag.
Kendall said he thinks an Iowa senator might like to introduce legislation to approve designation of a flag, since the original medal was the idea of an Iowan, U. S. Senator James Grimes, in 1861.
"I wrote to both Sen. (Charles) Grassley and Sen. (Tom) Harkin about six months ago, telling them what I have in mind," Kendall said. "I'd liked for them to push for this, but I haven't heard a word back from either one of them. That kind of surprises me. You think they might acknowledge the idea. I'm sure they're very busy. But I'm still waiting. I won't give up."
You can believe that. This is one very determined man, intent on seeing to it his country recognizes its greatest heroes.
"It takes a special type of person to do the kinds of things these men did," Kendall said.
Read the citations explaining the combat situation that led to the awarding of each medal, and you realize the word hero doesn't quite do it. There are descriptions of running straight into enemy machine-gun fire, almost always being wounded, dragging comrades to safety, holding off a superior enemy force.
"The guys who are awarded this medal, they don't usually say much about it," Kendall said. "If you get them talking, they'll tell you they found themselves in a rough spot and just said, "To hell with it, I'm going to do this thing no matter the cost." They don't even think much more about it than that. They just do it because it needs to be done."
When it's over, the battle is won. Somebody's life is saved. And the person responsible is wounded or killed.
"We can't ever forget these men or what they did," Kendall said. "We have what we have because of their service."
THE OFFICE OF:
IOWA CONGRESSMAN TOM LATHAM
TELEPHONE 202-225-5476 MEDIA FAX 202-226-3934
Co-Sponsors included Pueblo, Colorado's Congressman Scott McInnis
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