American Flag Flown over Afghanistan Marine Base
Now Inspires City of Heath Department of Public Safety
Heath, Texas, February 4, 2010– During busy days filled with all of the activities that make life normal, it is easy to forget that America is involved in a war. But the City of Heath Department of Public Safety has a constant reminder that thousands of men and women continue to put their lives on the line to protect our freedom.
Framed and proudly hanging in the hallway of the department is an American flag that flew over a Marine base in Kandahar, Afghanistan, on September 11, 2009. The flag was brought home to Heath DPS Chief Terry Garrett by a special Marine — His son, Sergeant Travis Garrett.
A Father’s Story…
“Travis served in Afghanistan and is ready to go back,” says Chief Garrett of his son, a 2002 graduate of Rockwall High School who enlisted in the Marine Corp in 2005. The Chief’s younger son, Tyler, is a 2005 Rockwall High School graduate who serves in the National Guard and has completed one tour to Baghdad, Iraq.
Travis and Tyler grew up watching their father serve the Rockwall Police and Fire Departments for 26 years before coming to Heath. So it seemed natural for them to want to follow Chief Garrett’s footsteps into public safety. Then September 11, 2001 occurred, and their choices were made. The military would be the younger Garretts’ purpose and way of serving America. “The boys are doing the jobs they have chosen,” says Chief Garrett. “You can’t help but worry about your children, even if they are working minutes away in Dallas. Although they are doing very dangerous work, I have confidence in their training, their abilities and those who they are serving beside. I am very proud of them both.”
While Travis, Tyler and their fellow troops are never far from the Chief’s thoughts, the flag hanging in the Department has brought a heightened awareness among the officers who work in a town already known for its support of the military.
Sergeant Travis Garrett, USMC, and Specialist Tyler Garrett, Army National Guard.
The Officers’ Gratitude…
“When I first saw our American flag that has flown in Afghanistan, I felt a great sense of pride for the Chief’s ability to let his sons go into harm’s way to do a job others can’t or won’t do,” says Sergeant Brian Griffeth.
“I have always been thankful for the job that our troops are doing and the sacrifice that they along with their families make,” says Officer Jevin Womack. “It is truly an honor to have such a profound symbol and daily reminder of our freedom hanging in our station.”
“I look at the flag and wonder how many soldiers looked at that same flag flying high while enduring the hardships of Afghanistan,” says Officer Andrew Poindexter. “I know that it kept them motivated and was a constant reminder that they were going to come home one day.”
“We can never forget the tragic events that caused these men and women to dedicate their lives to protecting ours lives through their sacrifice,” says Officer John Taylor.
“When I view the American flag displayed in our station, I think of our veterans, military service members and emergency service personnel who have shed blood, sweat and tears for our country,” says Officer Lance Ludtke. “This is a visual reminder of the great debt we owe to those who helped maintain our American civilization through their suffering.”
“Many of us get wrapped up in our daily routines and forget we are a nation at war. Simply passing the flag causes me to pause for a moment, think about our brave soldiers and sailors, and then say a quick prayer for our troops and their families,” says Officer Brian Burton. “With the sacrifices of others, we are all blessed to experience the many freedoms we have as Americans.”
A Community’s Pride…
Each year, veterans and active members of the military are invited to march alongside or ride on a special float in the City of Heath’s Annual Independence Day Parade. The Heath City Council also welcomes Heath citizens who have returned home from active duty with a proclamation and recognition during Council meetings.
If you have a family member or friend who has returned home to Heath from active duty and would like them to be honored by the City of Heath, please contact Assistant City Manager Kim Dobbs at 972-771-6228 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Heath DPS headline photo – from left: DPS Officers Brian Burton, Andrew Poindexter – Chief Garrett – and Mark Rogers.