Priceless American Flag Removed from Museum Over ‘Pay to Stay’ Ultimatum

Local News

A priceless American flag is no longer displayed at a Brownsville museum.

Vietnam veterans say they were given an ultimatum, pay up or leave…

 The veterans group, Warriors United in Arms, uses the flag regularly for memorial services and held meetings at the Brownsville Historical Museum.

But when they were told they needed to pay, the felt wronged and took their flag elsewhere.

“Hand salute! Order arms!” ordered a Vietnam War Veteran Color Guard inside an IBC bank vault.

An American flag encased in wood and glass shows the wounds of war.

 “The flag which is approximately 45 years old is torn yellowed has burn marks on it and could possibly have a bullet hole or two” said Warriors United in Arms’ member Larry Jokl while reading the history of the American flag on display.

The stars and stripes being presented once flew at the U.S. Embassy in South Vietnam during the Vietnam War.

 “Two Vietnamese embassy employees were angry… they tore down the U.S. ceremonial flag from its stand. They tried to burn it and tear it apart but a young Marine lieutenant wrestled it away from them.”

The flag was brought back to the United States of America.

Warriors United in Arms became the caretakers of the flag.

For two years the flag was on display at the Brownsville Historical Museum until recently. W.U.A. says the contact negations became an ultimatum, “pay to stay or leave.”

“This new contract we were committed that once we sign a contract, we would have to sign a contract every month [saying] that we cannot remove the flag. [From the museum]” explained Larry Hodges with Warriors United in Arms.

On top of not being able to remove the flag for offsite viewing, financially the contract was asking for too much.

“We would have to pay 100 dollars every time we would use the building and that is pretty expensive because we’re a nonprofit organization.” Said Hodges.

The American flag has a new safe house behind the solid steel of bank vault at IBC in Brownsville, Texas.

“That’s exactly what we need. Somebody to respect the flag and appreciate the flag and understand that you can’t just leave in one place. we needed elsewhere…58,000 Americans lost their lives in Vietnam and we’re going to protect this valuable piece of history until our dying day.” Said Hodges.

KVEO News Center 23 did reach out to the staff with the Brownsville historical museum.

They were not available for comment.

However, Executive Director Tara Putegnat did send a statement via email saying

“The Brownsville Historical Association is proud to display the Warriors United in Arms’ American flag.  At no time did we remove the flag from the museum.  The flag was removed by the veterans themselves for repair.  On a personal note, I hold all veterans in high esteem because my father proudly served his country during the Vietnam War.  We welcome the return of the flag and look forward to our continued working relationship with the Warriors United in Arms.”

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