A Toledo, Ohio, firefighter is being hailed as a hero after he managed to save an American flag at the home of a Vietnam veteran as the veteran’s house burned.
According to WTOL, firefighter Allen Skomer was on the crew responding to the fire early Friday morning. As the blaze began to spread from the residence to a neighboring structure, he saw something that caught his attention.
“I was helping one of the rookies throw a stream in between those two structures, to keep that second structure from burning,” Skomer said.
“That’s when I noticed the colors waving with the flames behind them.”
Skomer, as it turns out, is also a veteran — and moved quickly to save Old Glory.
“I didn’t want to let it burn, so I went and grabbed it. I’m an eight-year veteran of the Navy. It’s just a knee-jerk reaction. I didn’t want to see the colors go up.
“I would never knowingly let the flag go up in smoke or be desecrated in front of me if I can help it.”
Skomer then took the flag and put it on the bumper of his fire truck, being careful not to let it touch the ground. If he’d waited any longer, there wouldn’t have been any flag to save.
“I think shortly after … the roof became fully involved and it collapsed on itself,” Skomer said.
“We were able to save the adjoining structure. So I believe the flag got put back in there so the owner can keep it.”
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Sadly, the house was a complete loss — making it a bitter moment for the homeowner.
Christy Depp, a friend of the man who lost his house, told WTOL that saving the colors would have special resonance for the vet.
“That was a brand-new flag,” she said. “He took the old one down and took it back and they gave him a brand new one.”
The vet is also a pillar of the community, Depp said.
“He’s a veteran,” she said. “A lot of the homeless that walk up and down the streets, he feeds them. Cook for them and everything and never turned nobody down, nobody down. He did a lot for us.”
Toledo officials praised Skomer for his quick action, adding that respect for the flag runs deep within the department.
“Patriotism is something that I think is overlooked these days,” Toledo Fire spokesman Sterling Rahe said.
“That flag is the core symbol of our citizenship and we should be thankful for the freedom and what that flag represents. It’s a proud moment. Respect for the flag runs deep within our department. It’s a great moment for Al to take be able to respect the flag and do what he did.”
“Even though he lost his place, the colors he can keep,” Skomer said.
Indeed he can. That may be of small comfort from the perspective of the homeowner, but it’s a sign that his fire department is looking out for him.
So, we imagine, will many other people now that his story has gone viral.
As for Skomer, our hats are off to you, sir. Thank you for taking a risk for the symbol of our nation.
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