NORFOLK NAVAL SHIPYARD, Portsmouth, Va. —
A tradition four years in the making, the Norfolk Naval Shipyard (NNSY) Veteran Employee Readiness Group (VET-ERG) once again answered the call honoring veterans of the community with a donation of 113 worn United States flags to Sturtevant Funeral Home Jun. 12.
The VET-ERG began this initiative to deliver U.S. flags to Sturtevant as part of its Retire Your Flag Program in 2016. The flags collected are draped over a fallen veteran at the time of cremation, a tribute to their service and a patriotic way to honor them. Each June, the team invites fellow shipyarders and their families to donate any old or worn flags to the cause, delivering them not only to honor veterans but also commemorate Flag Day – a commemoration of the adoption of the U.S. Flag on June 14, 1777.
“The VET-ERG is always standing ready to help our fellow shipyard team, fellow veterans, and those within the community in any way we can,” said VET-ERG President Nicholas Boyle. “Working with Sturtevant has always been such a unique opportunity for us at NNSY. An opportunity where we can honor our fallen veterans with a piece of ourselves and our own history – flags that served their duty and will be there to accompany those veterans as they come to rest. Additionally, we ensure that the proper disposal and respect is offered to the flags that are collected. I’m so proud of our team and our community as a whole for once again answering the call to action.”
“It’s a tremendous honor to once again present Sturtevant Funeral Home these U.S. flags, that were donated to join our community’s veterans as they are laid to rest,” said Shipyard Commander Capt. Kai Torkelson in a small ceremony in which he turned over the flags to Robie Gardner who represented Sturtevant. “We’re very blessed to be able to gather these flags and have so many folks responding to the call to action. Even as we continue to face the current climate of COVID-19, America’s Shipyard continues to deliver on its mission – to serve our country, our fleet, and our veterans.”
He continued, “There is a lot of meaning when someone sends a flag off knowing that it’s going to serve an honorable purpose at its end. Wrapping the remains of a veteran is a patriotic way to retire both parties – a fitting role for Old Glory in service to an individual who served during their life to protect our freedoms. Thank you to everyone who participated in this honored tradition.”
“This program is very special to us at Sturtevant and to our community. Norfolk Naval Shipyard continues to go above and beyond to help us in this endeavor and we are very grateful,” said Gardner. “Your support means a lot to me and my family at Sturtevant and I look forward to our continued relationship.”
The NNSY VET-ERG supports members of the NNSY workforce who are military veterans of all five branches of service and other supporters of our nation’s veterans through a system of comprehensive activities and outreach programs. For more information regarding the NNSY VET-ERG, contact the VET-ERG Officers at NNSY_Veterans@navy.mil.
Learn more about the Retire Your Flag program at https://www.sturtevantfuneralhome.com/retire-your-flag/retire-your-flag.