Flag bridges generations of veteransPosted: Updated:
PHOENIX, Ariz. - Marine Cpl. Charly Mabry just returned from his fourth tour of duty. But this last deployment to Afghanistan was different than the others, because of an American Flag he carried with him.
"Wherever we went whatever we did it was on my back," said Mabry of the flag. "The flag covered Donald's casket, and now I'm holding it in my hands and the first time I held it was in a combat zone in Afghanistan."
Donald Keller served honorably during World War II. He died in 1979, six years before Charly was even born.
Their stories became intertwined last year, when Charly was preparing for his latest deployment. He logged onto the website AnySoldier.com and mentioned to a volunteer named Debbie Suazo that he'd forgotten something.
"In the haste this time for his deployment, he wasn't able to get an American flag which he normally carried, and I remembered Donna," said Suazo.
Donna Wirth is Donald Keller's daughter. It just so happens she also lives in Arizona. She sent her father's flag to Charly immediately.
"This would bring more life to it, and I was so excited to think this would actually have a purpose bigger than ourselves," Wirth first told us of the flag, when we met her back in April.
Mabry is now back home, with the flag and many reflections to go with it.
"The flag was from someone I've never met before, it's a flag that buried [Donna's] father and she's trusting a complete stranger to carry it, it instantly hits you in the heart and chokes you up, this is what we're out there for," said Mabry.
But Wirth says Mabry is the one who deserves thanks.
"I feel gratitude to him, I dont think I deserve any," she said. "I'm just happy to give him something that gives him a reason to get out there, and to have him carry it is an honor."