This Flag has quite the history coming to ESU” explains retired Detective Joe Zogbi. The story goes like this. Jimmy McEniry came back from the site with the Flag, and asked me: “Hey Zog, you’re an artist, can we put the names of the guys we lost in the stars along with the guys from the USS Cole?” I said, “Sure, I’ll see what I can do”.
When I took art courses in high school there was a technique called “Dotting”, when you used a sharpie and made dots instead of drawing lines to create an image. This is before printers and dot matrix technology. Because the stars in the Flag were sewn in thread and not sewn on as a patch, that’s the only way I could get the names to work. It took some time to do. But it was worth it.
The Flag was signed by first responders at Ground Zero, and military personnel who were involved in the ensuing conflict over the next year.
In a ceremony the Flag given to the United States Marine Corps 26th MEU during the invasion of Afghanistan, and flew over the Kandahar Airport.
As time went on, the Flag found its way back the USA into the hands of a USMC Major in Public Information. The Major often showed the Flag, was invited to public events and given VIP treatment all over the city. This over the protests of NYPD Emergency Service Unit personnel.
During one of the “presentations”, the Major and his personnel were given front row seats at the US Open tennis tournament where the Flag was flying over the tennis stadium in the rain.* The Flag was rescued from it’s precarious perch and returned to ESU.
Shortly afterwards I received a phone call from an irate Gunnery Sergeant concerning the whereabouts of “their Flag”, and began to make barely concealed threats.
At this time I placed a phone call to a friend who just happened to also be a retired Major in the USMC, and the current Chief of Staff for TSA. I inquired into the mind set of a USMC Major and what he thought of the entire story. He said to me, “Give the phone number where you are, and I will call you back”. Thirty minutes later I received that call and was advised that there would be no more issues or complaints from the POI Major’s office about the flag.
My friend marched into the Commandant of the Marines Corps Office and told him the story. What happened next I can only guess, but we never heard about returning the flag to the PIO Major’s custody again.
On 9/11/2002 I received a call form Chief Purtel, he asked me if I still had the flag, I said “Yes Sir”. He then asked me to bring it to Yankee Stadium, where it was to be in a pregame ceremony by ESU personnel.
This is where it gets interesting, We had the Flag in a wooden box that was made from teak wood from the USS Intrepid. What we didn’t get back from the Major was the key to the box. So, when we got to Yankee Stadium and were informed that this was a BIG DEAL, and we had to get the Flag out of the box, I called Emergency Service Squad 4 and got Glenn O’Donnell on the phone. I told him what was going on, and asked him to bring a set of lock picks so we could open the box.