'They're a coward:' Iraq War veteran pleads with public to get stolen flag back
TACOMA, WASH. — An Iraq War veteran's prized flag was stolen from his truck in Tacoma, Washington.
It's not just a flag, it carries history and bloodshed.
The flag Nolan Gomez fought hard to protect is gone, stolen in broad daylight while he was working on South 52nd and South Tyler Street in Tacoma.
“It was mine, I earned it, it was my title, I woke up and I was happy with that flag,” Gomez said. “I think they’re a coward honestly. They’re a coward. Anybody that sees that flag, they know there is some kind of history behind it or what we do as Americans to fight for the flag.”
It's more than stars and stripes for the Iraq War veteran.
Nolan’s flag is marked with meaning close to his heart. His friend’s blood is on the bottom four stripes of the flag. Nolan said he tried to use it as a tourniquet for his injured friend while they served from 2006 to 2009 together. That friend has since passed away and Nolan keeps his memory alive through a tattoo on his neck.
"It brings tears to my eyes to see it, but it was a good feeling like that flag was part of him, he is on that flag,” Gomez said.
When Nolan came back from the war, he flew the flag on a yellow broomstick pole on his truck. He displayed it with pride everywhere he went, just like that day in June when he was doing work in the South Tacoma neighborhood. He left it on a camper attached to the truck, it was gone when he got back.
"It was an act of, I think pure evil. It really was,” Gomez said.
The community was stunned and upset that someone would take the flag, so they made a sign pleading for anyone who has seen the flag to bring it back to the house on the corner of South 52nd and South Tyler Street in Tacoma or turn it into the police. The flag is about three feet wide.
"I just can't imagine someone doing that to someone who has served for our freedom,” said Kim Phillips who helped Nolan make the sign.
“I just couldn’t stop thinking about it, that’s a very heartfelt thing and he needs that flag.”
Some neighborhood kids brought Gomez another flag when they heard. He appreciates the kind gesture, but the one he really wants, is the one he has history and bloodshed with.
"Not understanding that the man behind that flag really cherished that flag,” said Gomez. “It meant a lot to him.”