Hudson, Ind. (Wane)
A Nazi Germany flag captured by Americans back in World War II is now here in northeast Indiana. It's all thanks to a Good Samaritan thousands of miles away.
"She said she just got a strange call that somebody was looking for my father and I said my father has been dead for 20 to 25 years," said Mark Heitger.
The person on the other end of the line was John Buchan, co-owner of a Sarasota, Florida gun store. He said he came across the Nazi flag at a pawn shop next door.
"When I got it here and unfolded it and looked at it, I noticed it had signatures on it," said Buchan.
At first, he decided to keep it.
"It just kept bothering me and I kept looking at it. I'm like 'no, I can't keep this flag, I got to find out if any of these guys are alive,"' said Buchan.
He got on the Internet and tried searching for those ten men's names or their family members.
"I talked to him on the phone and he told me that he had the flag with my dad's name on it, wanted to know if I was interested in it, and of course, yeah I wanted it," said Heitger.
Then, with no cost to him, Heitger got it in the mail.
"I was ecstatic. The first thing I had to do was pull it out and look at it to see my dad's name," said Heitger.
However, the gesture is what he'll remember equally.
"It's very touching to know that there are still American people around that honor our country and our soldiers and is willing to give of himself and his business and everything else to make sure that things liek this flag get to the right people with out any concern for himself. I that that's real special," said Heitger.
"I just figured his father fought for that flag and that flag deserves to be back in their family," said Buchan.
It's something that they both felt needed to be preserved.
He said when I look at this flag and saw those American names she said I realized this was not a German flag anymore, that was an American flag," said Heitger.
Heitger is lending the flag to the World War II Museum in Auburn, so people can see it in person.
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Ernest Taylor “Ernie” Pyle
Born: 3 August 1900 near Dana, Indiana
Died: 18 April 1945 on Iejima, Okinawa
When America joined World War I, he enlisted into the US Navy Reserve at 17 and served three months active duty before the war ended. He finished his reserve service later making the rank of Seaman Third Class.
After the war he attended Indiana University studying journalism and left before his last semester to completion to take a job at a newspaper in LaPorte, Indiana. He would move to Washington, D.C. in three months and serve as a reporter.
He would met Geraldine “Jerry” Siebolds in D.C. and got married in 1925. Their relationship was rough for “Jerry” would suffer from bouts of mental illness and alcoholism, but he loved her greatly.
Ernie’s reporting style about a trip in 1934 to California to fill another syndicated columnist would bring him notoriety. In 1935, a national newspaper asked him to travel the country and write about unusual places and people across America which brought joy to a depression era.
When America joined World War II, Ernie Pyle became a war correspondent. Instead of reporting the Army movements and General’s activities, he would write on the view of the common soldier.