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Sunday, December 2, 2007

Flag-raising Marks Culmination of Airman’s Dream

Source: DVIDSHub.

Story by Capt. Michael Meridith
Posted on 11.30.2007 at 12:27PM
455th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs.

BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan – When Chief Master Sgt. Stanley Burrows looks up at the U.S. and Afghan flags flying side-by-side in Camp Cunningham, he feels a special sense of satisfaction. The flags, which began flying around the clock for the first time today, represent the culmination of several months of effort involving Airmen volunteers from across the 455th Air Expeditionary Wing.

“I arrived here in early August and in my first couple of weeks the command chief master sergeant said there were some concerns that we were flying a smaller Afghan flag than the U.S. flag,” said Burrows, the 455th Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron manager from Herriman, Utah. “I told him that to me it was worse that we were flying the flag from a pole that was bolted to a building.”

That conversation was the spark that put Burrows into action. Within days, he had outlined a plan that would lead to the installation of two new (and much sturdier) steel flagpoles and a refurbished lighting system to allow the flags to fly 24 hours.

The first step occurred when Air Force Staff Sgt. Kevin Hill and Senior Airman Brian Holmes, volunteers from the 1st Expeditionary Red Horse Group, built a third concrete column to join two others already under the flagpoles. One column is inscribed with a dedication to the camp’s namesake, fallen pararescueman Senior Airman Jason Cunningham, killed in 2002 while moving wounded comrades to safety. The other column is inscribed with George Orwell’s quote: “People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf.” [My enboldening.]

By Nov. 20, the flagpoles had arrived and were proudly carried to the site by a group of security force volunteers, said Burrows. Afterward, members of the 455th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron, including Tech. Sgt. Ken Payne, Air Force Staff Sgt. David Garcia, Air Force Staff Sgt. Scott Towner, Air Force Staff Sgt. Jeff Walker and Airman Rob Brodrick, moved on to the next phase of the project.

After the base of the existing aluminum pole was jackhammered away, a new concrete foundation was laid on Nov. 23. Less than a week later the concrete hardened and the poles were carefully installed and secured into place with a refurbished lighting system to support them.

“It’s a bit different than the types of jobs we normally do,” said Garcia, a Houston native. “I haven’t done anything like this before but it feels good to be able to contribute something lasting to Bagram that people will look at every day.”

That sentiment was echoed by Red Horse’s Air Force Staff Sgt. Kevin Hill. “It’s good to know that you can walk by and say ‘I did that,’” said the New Goshen, Ind., native. “It makes you feel proud to know you were part of it.”

The final touch to the project was the addition of a full-size, all-weather Afghan flag, donated by Burrows’ wife. After months of anticipation, Burrows’ dream became a reality when both the U.S. and Afghan flags were raised on their new poles, Nov. 30[, 2007].

“I think that if we are representing the U.S. and coming here to be a partner with Afghanistan, we need to have a flag that represents them well. Like the rumble of our F-15Es (Strike Eagles), seeing both of the flags up there, flying together, reminds me of why we’re here,” concluded Burrows.

The American and Afghan flags fly side-by-side after being raised on two new flagpoles at Camp Cunningham, Nov. 30, 2007. Date Taken: November 30th, 2007Location: Bagram Airfield, AF, Photographer: Capt. Michael Meridith, 455th Air Expeditionary Wing. Digg! Digg!

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