Dutch collector presents D-Day flag to US

Mark Rutte
Donald Trump

President Donald Trump speaks during a ceremony where Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte will present a 48-star flag flown on a U.S. Naval vessel during the D-Day invasion, in the East Room of the White House, Thursday, July 18, 2019, in Washington. The flag will be given to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History. The vessel was control vessel Landing Craft, Control 60 (LCC 60). (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

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WASHINGTON (AP) — It’s worn and tattered and stained with oil and diesel fuel, but this Old Glory has returned home.

An American flag that flew on the stern of a boat carrying the first waves of U.S. troops to land in Normandy, France, on D-Day during World War II was donated to the United States Thursday by a Dutch businessman and collector.

The Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History says a hole right through the middle of the tattered flag’s field of stars is believed to have come from a German machine gun bullet.

Trump unveiled the flag in the East Room of the White House during his meeting with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte. The skipper of the D-Day boat — Lt. Howard Vander Beek, from Cedar Falls, Iowa — had the flag until he died in 2014.

“Amid treacherous German minefields, raging winds, and rough seas, Lt. Vander Beek and his crew led an astonishing 19 waves of American troops and equipment to those very, very dangerous beaches,” Trump said. “Through it all, this flag soared proudly above the waters of the English Channel, announcing the arrival of our American warriors.”

After Vander Beek died, his family sold the flag in an estate sale for $514,000. Dutch businessman Bert Kreuk and his uncle and business partner, Theo Schols, bought it with the idea of donating it back to the United States.

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