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Flags Stolen From Veterans’ Graves Leaves Soldier Speechless

“It sort of boggles my mind that someone would stoop so low as to steal flags from veterans who were trying to honor veterans by placing flags at their grave sites.”

John DeBisschop, chairman of the Naugatuck Veterans Council, holds American flags at St. James Cemetery where 576 flags were stolen as veterans were placing them at grave sites of deceased veterans. Photo by Paul Singley/Naugatuck Patch
John DeBisschop, chairman of the Naugatuck Veterans Council, holds American flags at St. James Cemetery where 576 flags were stolen as veterans were placing them at grave sites of deceased veterans. Photo by Paul Singley/Naugatuck Patch

The pomp and circumstance of this year’s Veterans Day parade in Naugatuck was marred by the knowledge of what had transpired over the weekend.

As members of the Naugatuck VFW Post No. 1946 were replacing American flags at grave sites Saturday evening at St. James Cemetery — the final resting place for more than 1,800 veterans — four boxes of flags were stolen.

“When I got the call, I was speechless,” said John DeBisschop, a U.S. Navy veteran and chairman of the Naugatuck Veterans Council. “It sort of boggles my mind that someone would stoop so low as to steal flags from veterans who were trying to honor fellow veterans by placing flags at their grave sites.”

Those 576 flags cost the Naugatuck Veterans Council about $400, said DeBisschop, who is also a Naugatuck firefighter. 

Police Investigate the ‘Despicable’ Crime

Naugatuck Police Detective Sgt. Paul Markette took the call on Saturday from the veterans. He took a statement from DeBisschop and the VFW vets about what transpired. Markette was nearly as upset as the veterans.

“This makes me mad because these guys served our country and many died while doing so,” he said. “To take from veterans who are trying to honor other vets is just despicable.”

Police are actively investigating the case. Anyone who has information is asked to contact the Naugatuck Police Department at 203-729-5222.

Flags Honor Fallen Veterans

DeBisschop explained that the Veterans Council replaces the flags at veterans’ grave sites throughout the community twice a year: before Veterans Day and Memorial Day. They split up the work between various local veterans groups, including the VFW and the American Legion Post No. 17.

The Veterans Council purchases all of the flags and distributes them to the various organizations, which sometimes receive help from people in the community. City Hill Middle School typically helps replace flags at St. James, which has the most veterans of any cemetery in Naugatuck.

This year, DeBisschop decided to buy the flags for the entire year, so he had four additional boxes that he brought to St. James on Saturday night after the theft. He and the VFW vets made sure all of the vet graves had brand new flags in time for Veterans Day.

Now, the Veterans Council hopes police can locate whoever is responsible for the thefts.

“We know it’s going to be difficult to find someone, but we’re hoping,” DeBisschop said.

Out of Place in This Patriotic Community

Veterans Day is a major affair in Naugatuck, Conn., a borough that more than 2,300 veterans call home.

There are veterans programs in schools, convivial events at local establishments where veterans gather, and a Veterans Day parade through the center of town.

On Monday afternoon, despite the theft over the weekend, veterans marched alongside youth groups and local and state politicians – even two U.S. senators and a congressman joined the parade on Church Street.

Mayor Bob Mezzo, who marched in the parade, said he was disgusted with what he called a senseless act.

"There is no act, no matter how pathetic or heartless as the theft of American flags from the graves of veterans, that could diminish the reverence that this community has for our amazing veterans," he said. "I know in my heart that the overwhelming attendance at the Veterans Day parade and ceremony after it is much more a function of what Naugatuck is about than some senseless act of theft."

Deep Throat November 13, 2013 at 03:47 PM
I say when these punks are caught, that they as punishment are immediately sent to Afghanistan to walk point for the troops they just dishonored. Then we can visit them in the hospital when they come back without a limb or two.
Scott Guion November 13, 2013 at 05:05 PM
If you would like to help the Naugatuck VFW Post 1946 with replacing the recent stolen flags from our Verterans graves. Send a check to "Naugatuck Veterans Council" at P.O. 226 Naugatuck, CT 06770. Make the check out to: Naugatuck Veterans Council Use "FLAG" in the memo section You will receive a thank you letter in the mail thanking you for your generous dontion. Thank you all for your support
Missy YouToo November 13, 2013 at 09:46 PM
Looks like the communists of the USA are in full swing. Seems almost like terrorists have more respect for their own flag and what it stands for than today's American youth and those who despise their own country. And how do you live in this nation and not respect our flag and what it represents, of being proud about our nation and of our lives and blood spilled by Americans and to honor those who fought to give them the freedom they have. Nothing more than sleazeballs.
chris November 13, 2013 at 10:47 PM
If they catch them, fry them. Whoever did this can't be helped.
Joan Allen November 14, 2013 at 08:16 AM
Just disgusting...How sad that even our dead Veterans are disrespected.

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