Vietnam veteran Charles Russell of Amite will celebrate his 79th birthday Saturday on his back porch watching the American flag wave in the wind.
Russell served in the U.S. Marine Corps for 10 years during the Vietnam War. All he wanted for his birthday was to have a flag pole in his yard to fly the U.S. flag along with the U.S. Marine Corps flag he already owned.
Hoping to surprise him, his wife Ann contacted Louisiana Department of Veterans Affairs who referred her to The Raymond “Mike” Clausen VVA Chapter 1052 in Independence.
As a birthday gift, the chapter donated a flag kit complete with two U.S. flags and a 16-foot pole. The gift took Russell completely by surprise.
“This is something I didn’t expect, ” he said. “I really appreciate it, and it means a lot.”
With Russell’s declining health not allowing him to erect the pole himself, veteran Louis Joseph and community volunteer Dave Dupree III volunteered their time to install it in his yard.
On March 15, the two arrived at the Russell home with concrete mix and shovels they paid for out of their own pocket to help a fellow veteran.
Charles and Ann Russell were emotional during the presentation of the flags, Joseph said.
Both flags now wave in the front yard of the home.
“I sit on the porch and look at the flag as it blows in the wind, ” Russell said.
His wife said the gift will be forever remembered and embraced by them.
“Happy birthday to a fellow veteran and Semper Fi!” said Tommy Munster, president of Chapter 1052.
Source: The Daily Star, Hammond