Local DPW worker recovers discarded American flags from garbage

News

DICKSON CITY, LACKAWANNA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU-TV) — A member of the Dickson City Borough DPW Crew has a special respect for our nation’s flag. His dad died in Vietnam and his grandfather died in World War II. Recently, he’s retrieved 14 flags in a two-day period from residents’ trash.

Ken Hess tells Eyewitness News he has been working for the Department of Public Works in Dickson City for about 15 years. He has pretty much seen it all, but one thing that gets him agitated is seeing our nation’s flag in the garbage.

“It’s just amazing. Sometimes you find one once in a while, but when you find fourteen in a two-day period, it kinda really gets you disgusted.”

Hess’s dad was killed in the Vietnam War when he was just an infant. His name is listed on area veteran monuments like one in nearby Throop.

“He got killed on February 8, 1969. Six months after I was born. He was a sergeant, a paratrooper, a LRRP (long-range reconnaissance patrol) which is a Ranger, before it was the Rangers. And two weeks before he was going to come home is when he died. So from that point on. I knew my mom was handed the coffin flag. That I would respect it for the rest of my life.”

“Sometimes they are right in the can, sometimes they are in the hopper. No matter what’s in there I go and dig it out make sure that it’s properly retired.”

Hess and his co-workers don’t understand why residents here and elsewhere, would not take the time to take a tattered flag to a flag deposit box, usually located at area veterans organizations.

“Receptacles all over the place. In front of the legions, in front of the VFW. That’s where they should be putting them,” said Robbie Wilson, a Dickson City DPW worker.

“I took them to the American Legion, 901 Main Street in Dickson City. But any veterans organization, Boy Scouts, anybody would take them,” said Hess.

A proud son and grandson whose dad and grandfather paid the ultimate sacrifice while fighting for our country. Hess has a respect for the red, white, and blue that is unparalleled.

Hess has been told by different local officials that more flag deposit boxes will be placed in the borough. 

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