A new flag for unsung heroes in World War II has joined the hall of military flags at the Washington County Municipal Center.
The Merchant Marines flag is now flying from a stand amid the other flags, which are all displayed on the walls.
“This one was too big. It’s so much larger than the others that protocol says it can’t go up there,” said Hartford Supervisor Dana Haff, who served in the Merchant Marines.
The Maritime Administration provided the flag for free, so the county accepted it despite the size.
It was a proud moment for Haff, whose father served in the Merchant Marines during World War II.
“In World War II, the Merchant Marines had the highest death rate — even higher than the Marines,” Haff said.
The Merchant Marines lost one in every 26 seamen to death from hostile action. The Marines lost one in every 34.
The organization delivered most of the war equipment and supplies to the war theaters, risking bombardment from air and sea.
“My father in World War II was torpedoed,” Haff said.
It was March 9, 1943. The James K. Polk was off the coast of South America. A German u-boat struck and got away. Only one sailor was killed.
“The ship was disabled,” Haff said. “They got almost everyone off, but a skeleton crew. They raised all the cargo booms, put any cloth they had and floated close to Trinidad.”
The 360-mile journey was a success, but the ship was declared a total loss.
Haff also went into the Merchant Marines, retiring in 2008 after 26 years. He was a captain for the last 10 years of his career.
Did you subscribe for our daily newsletter?
It’s Free! Click here to Subscribe!