Prince George's County Police return a lost American flag to the family of the owner, a former World War I veteran.

photo credit: Prince George's County Police

Lost American flag memorializing World War I veteran returned to owner

July 31, 2019 - 10:31 am

Tom Jarrett was driving on Central Avenue in Maryland earlier this month when he noticed a folded American flag with a shattered glass display case in the road. 

Jarrett, who is a Navy veteran and didn’t know who the flag belonged to, walked into oncoming traffic to retrieve the flag and then he took it to the Prince George’s County Police. The five policemen on duty that day just happened to be military veterans. They understood the significance of the flag and knew they had to find the owner's family.

Now, the flag’s owner has come forward, noting it once belonged to an African American soldier who fought in Europe during World War I.

William Holley, 79, was moving the day the flag went missing, and a stranger at a traffic light told him something had fallen off his truck. When Holley went back to find it though, the flag wasn’t there, he said. 

In fact, by the time Holley turned around, Jarrett had already returned it, police said. 

The flag got a lot of media attention in the Washington, D.C. area, where Prince George's County is located.  Holley’s daughter saw the police messages searching for the flag’s owner and alerted him. 

The flag was given to Holley, himself a Vietnam War veteran, after his 90-year-old uncle, Marcellus Herod, died. Herod was one of the 390,000 African Americans who served in World War I in Europe, police said. The flag was displayed on a bookcase in his family’s house for more than 30 years.

photo credit: Prince George's County Police

Police captured the moment the two men connected. 

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