U.S. Honor Flag comes to San Diego for escort to Phoenix
SAN DIEGO (CNS) - The United States Honor Flag arrived by aircraft Monday at Lindbergh Field, where it was greeted by San Diego-area firefighters and police officers, who then drove it to Arizona.
The officers are driving the flag to Prescott, Ariz., so it can be displayed Tuesday at a memorial service for 19 firefighters who were killed June 30 while battling a nearly 8,400-acre wildfire in central-west Arizona, according to San Diego police Sgt. Mike Pidgeon.
The fallen firefighters were part of a Prescott-based hotshot squad that was overtaken by flames due to a sudden wind shift. Only one member of the team survived.
San Diego city police and firefighters, along with the San Diego County Sheriff's Department's Honor Guard and the San Diego Firefighters Emerald Society Pipe and Drum Band, met the flag at the arrival gate and took possession of it from the aircraft captain.
Following the exchange, uniformed officers, the honor guard and band formed a procession through the airport to their vehicles, which were waiting outside Terminal 2.
The exact origin of the honor flag is controversial, but it has traveled about the country to various events honoring fallen heroes for more than 10 years.
Texan Chris Heisler, a post-9/11 Army vet, claims he received the flag from the Texas House of Representatives after he organized a caravan to Ground Zero consisting of police officers from various states. The officers delivered flags from their states and Heisler delivered an American flag that would go on to be dubbed by Heisler the United States Honor Flag.
Texas state officials have refuted Heisler's claim, saying there is no documentation that a flag of any kind was ever gifted to Heisler.