Hundreds of flags honor fallen Marine in Columbia

COLUMBIA, Tenn. (WKRN) — Fifty stars and 13 stripes make up our nation’s flag, a flag Jeff Hastings will always work to put up.

“I will never get tired of doing this,” he said.

Inside an old ambulance outside the Heritage Funeral Home in Columbia are thousands of flags waiting to fly.

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“We find that the smaller the community, the more volunteers you’ll get,” Hastings told News 2.

On Thursday, Sept. 7, approximately 100 volunteers from across Columbia were at the funeral home, putting up more than 400 American flags.

“Just regular citizens that said, ‘I didn’t even know Lance Cpl. Whaley, I didn’t know his family, but I heard you were doing this and I want to be here for that family,” Hastings explained.

Lance Cpl. Joseph Whaley was undergoing a live fire training at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton in California when he was killed in August.

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Through a non-profit called The Flagman’s Mission Continues, Hastings and volunteers like Johnie Hall set up flags around the U.S. for fallen active duty servicemembers.

“We did one and it makes your heart feel good,” Hall said as he patted his chest.

Forty weeks a year, they travel across nine states, working with communities to pay their respects through flags.

“We’re honoring a fallen hero, and every flag that’s flown, that’s flying for this hero, that’s flown for other heroes, is a memory,” said Hall.

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These 50 stars and 13 stripes are just a small gesture of gratitude Hastings wants Whaley’s family to see, saying, “It’s all about honor and humility, and we’re honored and humbled to do this.”

A total of 425 flags were set up by volunteers Thursday afternoon. Hastings said they will take them all down on Sunday, Sept. 10, before they head off to their next funeral in Illinois.

Volunteers with The Flagman’s Mission Continues are able to make these trips and set up flags for military families thanks to donations. If you’d like to make a contribution, you can do so by clicking here.

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