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Saturday, February 14, 2004

OUR FLAG IN IRAQ



This site was taken from information previously posted at my GyG's "Old Salt Marines Tavern--Interactive" forum on March 27, 2003. This was in regard to the short-lived flag raising in Iraq of our colors by United States Marines. As reported in the news at that time, the flag was quickly ordered taken down by U.S. military authority there. There was a certain amount of brouhaha in news articles as to the U.S. being too sensitive to public opinion and political correctness, etc., but policy has been and remains not to raise our flag in foreign lands such as the Iraq situation. Marines, however, have a long and proud history of raising our colors in foreign lands all over the world, in battles which they have spilled their blood and paid with their lives to do so.

Indeed, Marines have raised our colors dating back to the beginning of the Corps in 1775! To name just a few: Fortress Derna, North Africa, 24 April, 1805; The Palacio, Mexico City, 13 September, 1847; Shuri Castle, Okinawa, 28 May 1945; The Citadel, Hue City, Vietnam, 19 February 1968, etc.

Many Marine flag raisings, in modern times, have been photographed as was the Mount Suribachi, Iwo Jima Flag Raising; earlier flag raisings have been depicted in artwork, etc.

But, alas, times are changing.

In contrast...

"After winning a pitched battle with entrenched, well-armed Iraqi forces at the port of Umm Qasr, U.S. Marines briefly raised the American flag over the port to symbolize a hard-won victory. Traditionally, Marines are the "first in," and in many battles they have had the well-earned honor of raising the U.S. flag over territory taken from the enemy — most famously at Iwo Jima’s Mt. Suribachi. But according to a Reuters dispatch from Umm Qasr, shortly after raising our flag in triumph, "Marines returned and removed the Stars and Stripes. No reason was given for the decision, but Washington has consistently stressed that invading U.S. forces want to liberate Iraq, not occupy it."

"According to the March 20th International Herald Tribune, U.S. troops poised at the Kuwait-Iraq border were forbidden to display "regimental, state or even the American flag.... Officials say the flag could give the citizens of Iraq the wrong idea about the convoys of artillery, ammunition and soldiers. They are not, these officials say, an army of conquest, intent on claiming Iraqi land or treasure for the United States, but a liberation force. They are concerned that streams of American flags would be seen as provocative.'"
Ref http://www.thenewamerican.com/tna/2003/04-21-2003/vo19no08_flag.htm

The following is from the book, A Fellowship Of Valor, by Col Joseph H. Alexander, USMC
Ret, 1997, Harper Collins, we learn the following regarding the flag
raising in Seoul, Korea on 27 Spetember, 1950...
"...Leathernecks (Pfc Leguire shown--see photo bottom this page) raised the American flag over the
U.S. Embassy with a great cheer. It felt so good they repeated the
process at the French--and many other--embassies."

"An envious Army officer from Almond's staff chided Chesty Puller: 'Ever
since that flag-raising picture on Iwo Jima got published, I'm convinced
you Marines would rather carry a flag into battle than a weapon.' Puller
regarded the man icily, 'Not a bad idea,' he growled, 'a man with a flag
in his pack and the desire to run it up on an enemy position isn't
likely to bug out!'"

Then, on 19 January, 2004, to return specifically to the subject of Our Flag In Iraq, the following response was posted to my GyG's forum (see above).

"My flag in Iraq
by paul (no login)

The Marine Flag that everyone saw raised in Umm Qasr belongs to me, I aqquired it when I was a pfc. I was a Cpl and just got out a couple of months ago. I was a team ldr with Fox company 3rd plt, 2/1; we were with the 15th meu in Iraq and were the main effort in the assault on Umm Qasr. One of our drivers raised the flags but the usmc flag is mine and the us flag is my friend john's. I am thinking of either selling it or putting it in a museum, it is signed by my whole company plus recon and sniper attachments and the journalist who took the famous picture that is on your website. If you know anyone who is interested in purchasing it or putting it in a museum please contact me at Paul_ballenger@hotmail.com

Posted on Jan 19, 2004, 5:05 PM
from IP address 207.144.238.104"
~~~~~
I then exchanged e-mail with Paul Ballenger regarding this, and the following (also posted to the forum) is the content of that exchange..

"From: "R.W.GAINES"
To: Paul_ballenger@hotmail.com
Subject: Your Post to GyG's forum...
Date: Tue, 20 Jan 2004 05:19:21 -0800 (PST)

Paul:
Thank you for posting to
GyG's...--appreciated!

As you probably know, the Internet has more than its share of idiots posing as Marines and posting false information to bulletin boards, etc. My feeling regarding your post is that it is authentic. Others however, are apt to be more skeptical on all things and there will be doubters...

I have forwarded your post to a friend--a retired gunnery sergeant--who is involved with the Marine Corps Legacy Museum--hopefully, you will be hearing from him soon. I have also forwarded your post around to my e-mail list and other forums
for all to see.

The one question on everyone's mind will be, why would you consider selling the flag?
Would like to hear back from you on this, and if I can be of any assistance to you, let me
know.
Semper Fidelis, Marine!
Thanks!
Dick Gaines"
~~~~~
And, Paul responded as follows...

-- paul ballenger
wrote:
From: "paul ballenger"

To: gyg1345@yahoo.com
Subject: RE: flag
Date: Tue, 20 Jan 2004 16:48:12 -0800

Mr Gaines
Thankyou for answering my posting, enclosed is a picture( I am 3rd from left) of some of my friends and I enjoying a beer at the Umm Qasr visitors terminal on the 3rd night
of the war. We found the beer along with some liqour in the UN compound at the port facility, we figured they wouldn't need it anymore. As far as selling the flag to be
honest I could certainly use the money. As a Marine in the infantry for 4 years I have a lifetime of stories and great memories as well as unbelievable friends. Unfortunately one does not make a lot of money and it makes things tough when you try to transition back to civvy street. I am starting a new job fairly soon but I want to buy a house as soon as possible.

I wouldn't mind putting it in a museum if not for a while so others could enjoy it. I thought about putting it in the Parris Island museum as I live very close to Parris Island but they seem to focus on recruit life and not on the combat of the divisions so maybe somewhere else. If you know of people who are interested in either by all
means they can email me. I will be joining the Marine Corps League within the next two weeks and may ask for some guidance fom them.

In the meantime if people wish to ask me any questions as to my legitamacy as to being a Marine or my being in Umm Qasr I would be glad to, as well as furnish umerous pics that I collected off of everyone in my co as well as the journalists that were embedded with us.

Thanks again for your email
Paul Ballenger~~~~~

"Ref message...

There it is. If anyone viewing this has up-to-date information regarding Paul Ballenger and his battle color, etc., feel free to e-mail me.
Photo:
Pfc Leguire raising Old Glory, US Embassy, Seoul, Korea, September 27, 1950


Semper Fidelis
Dick Gaines
~~~~~~~~~~