PHOTO: Jim Nabors of Trenton, GA (Past Sergeant At Arms); and Tony Goolesby of Sylvania (Sergeant At Arms) with the U.S. Army Flag, one of the six flags raised at the Mountain View Memory Gardens in Pine Ridge. (LaRue Hardinger | Northeast Alabama Marine Corps League)
By Tyler Pruett, Managing Editor, with LaRue Hardinger, Northeast Alabama Marine Corps League
FORT PAYNE, Ala. — Marine Mom Frankie S Winkler, messaged LaRue Harbinger, a lifelong friend of hers and a member of the Northeast Alabama Marine Corps league. She was in a dilemma.
Winkler related to Hardinger that flagpoles were in place at the Mountain View Memory Gardens in Pine Ridge, where her husband is buried - flagpoles with ropes for flags of every branch of the U.S. military plus a POW/MIA flag.
“She told me they were all bare - except the tallest flagpole which bore the American flag - one she had been able to secure through petitioning the groundskeeper,” said Hardinger.
“Frankie knew that two days later would be Memorial Day,” Hardinger explained.
"I can't stand the thought of those poles being empty, with so many veterans buried all around!" Frankie said to Hardinger. “She was in tears,” Hardinger said.
Frankie is a true patriot. She was at her wits' end. Her family had been through a lot lately. Hardinger told her she would see what she could do.
“I called our N.E. Alabama Marine Corps League Commandant Mike Key and he suggested I call our Marine Jim Nabors who lives in Trenton, Ga, and shops frequently at a great little store that sells all types of flags: JBs Variety Store, 11841 South Main Street, Trenton, GA 30752,” said Hardinger.
“I called Jim and he cheerfully said he'd be there when the store opened the following morning,” she explained.
Like clockwork, Jim called and the next morning (Saturday) and said to Hardinger: "I'm sittin' here in my car with six flags and I'm in uniform. Where do I go?"
In the meantime, Frankie had raised $80, and Hardinger had raised $40 more, to help pay for the flags. And to top it all off, JBs Variety gave the group a huge discount because of the cause and the urgency, and out of respect for our deceased veterans on Memorial Day weekend!
Hardinger explained how the whole thing came together: “After a few more phone calls to their members who lived near the cemetery (and might could get there by 12:30 pm to avoid possible rain) and within two hours, standing at the flagpoles in Pine Ridge amidst numerous veterans' graves, were five of our Detachment 1404 members in uniform to raise the flags! Also there was Frankie Winkler; and a donor who wrote a check for more than $40, to completely cover the cost of the U.S. Army flag!”
Hardinger thanked all those involved: “Thank you, Marine Mom Frankie S Winkler, for not giving up. Thank you, Det. 1404 Marines Mike Key of Valley Head (Commandant); Charles Martin of Grove Oak (Senior Vice Commandant & Chaplain); Jim Nabors of Trenton, GA (Past Sergeant At Arms); and Tony Goolesby of Sylvania (Sergeant At Arms), for dropping everything and making it top priority to honor these veterans by making sure their flags were not missing!”
She continued: “Thank you, JBs Variety Store in Trenton for the huge discount. you gave to our Marine Jim Nabors on the flag purchases!”
“And thank you, anonymous check donor, for the U.S. Army flag! You know who you are!" said Hardinger.
"We planned on having to raise twice as much as what we paid for the six 3 x 5 flags, which were raised in this order: U.S. Army, U.S. Navy, U.S. Air Force, U.S. Marines, U.S. Coast Guard, POW/MIA,” said Hardinger.
“Patriots are alive and well in DeKalb County, Alabama - and Trenton, GA! Semper Fidelis!” concluded Hardinger.