By Nick Janes

GRASS VALLEY (CBS13) – One of the largest flags around Grass Valley has flown proudly on a busy street corner 24 hours a day, for years, but somebody cut it down on the eve of 9-11.

“Well, I just couldn’t believe it,” flag owner Reg King said.

King figured his tenants had temporarily taken the flag down. What other explanation could there be?

“I went in and asked her and Chris says, ‘Oh no. She says, ‘I thought you took it down!'” he said.

The shocking reality set in once Reg had a closer look.

“All the rope and the skirt was all laying down here,” he said.

The gigantic flag, 15 by 25 feet, had been stolen.

“I don’t know, that’s a very big flag to bundle up and take somewhere,” King said.

It was an especially upsetting theft considering the timing.

“So here we are, the day before September 11,” King said.

An empty flagpole on 9-11? Reg refused to give up. He called the local veterans group.

“I said, ‘You know what? This flag has to fly. This is a critical, important time,'” he said.

Grass Valley firefighters, accustomed to rushing to rescue calls, were the first to respond to a different kind of emergency. Reg had a backup flag but no way of putting it up.

They brought in a ladder truck, hoisting the stars and stripes back into place. Firefighters say it was an honor to help.

“It’s a significant day in America’s history. We needed to help out,” Battalion Chief Mark Buttron said.

A reminder of one of our darkest days and symbol of our enduring strength, now back right where it belongs.

“We were on a mission. We got it to fly and that’s what was important,” King said. “Good to see the lady up there.”

Reg plans to put a bigger flag up with better security measures before long. When he’s ready, firefighters say they’ll be there to help him again.


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