Scouts conduct flag retirement ceremony

| March 29, 2013 | 0 Comments
Drew Ollice (left) and Caleb Castro prepare to add a stripe from an American flag to the flames while Landon Blakeman stands at attention during a flag retirement ceremony at East Range, March 20. The boys are members of Boy Scout Troop 135, based at JBPHH.

Drew Ollice (left) and Caleb Castro prepare to add a stripe from an American flag to the flames while Landon Blakeman stands at attention during a flag retirement ceremony at East Range, March 20. The boys are members of Boy Scout Troop 135, based at JBPHH.

Story and photos by
Donna Klapakis
599th Transportation Surface Brigade Public Affairs

SCHOFIELD BARRACKS — The first day of spring is a symbolic time of rebirth.

March 20 was the date on which Boy Scout Troop 135 of Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam celebrated the last night of its Spring Fling, an annual five-day campout on East Range, here.

This time also meant that the troop would retire the American flags it had gathered throughout the year.

According to the U.S. Code, Title 4, Chapter 1, “The flag, when it is in such condition that it is no longer a fitting emblem for display, should be destroyed in a dignified way, preferably by burning.”

Kai Gleisner, a member of Boy Scout Troop 135, based at JBPHH, prepares to add a stripe from an American flag to the flames during a flag retirement ceremony at East Range.

Kai Gleisner, a member of Boy Scout Troop 135, based at JBPHH, prepares to add a stripe from an American flag to the flames during a flag retirement ceremony at East Range.

“People know that we dispose of flags respectfully during a ceremony, so they will contact the scoutmaster or our parents and bring worn flags to us,” said senior patrol leader Drew Ollice, a junior at Radford High School. “I brought about 30 flags to the Spring Fling, just from my neighbors. We always have a lot of flags to retire at the ceremonies.”

The JBPHH troop attracts scouts from all over the island, and it had invited parents and other family members to celebrate the last night of its campout, said scoutmaster John McMillan.

Before the flag retirement ceremony, the troop conducted skits, and Scouts received awards for their accomplishments during the week in first aid, orienteering and more.

Ollice said that three sergeants from the 196th Infantry Brigade helped the Scouts by running the orienteering course.

“First, they gave us a class, and then, they conducted a course. We had three-and-a-half hours to complete it,” Ollice said.

The actual flag retirement is a solemn ceremony for the troop.

The narrator, Bobby Bueche, a junior at the Baptist Academy, and head of the flag retirement detail, first read a brief history and significance of the American flag. Afterwards, the Scouts cut each stripe away from the largest flag that they retired.

The narrator then cited the name of each of the 13 original colonies, in order, beginning with Virginia and ending with Georgia, before two Scouts carried the corresponding stripe over to a waiting campfire and burned each separately.

Once all stripes had been disposed of, the group of Scouts comprising the flag retirement detail carried the blue field to the fire and burned it as a whole. After the first flag, the troop retired four more, smaller flags during the ceremony.

Although the troop still had many more flags to retire, it will do that more privately but with equal respect, said Bueche.

 

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