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Card inside flag starts journey to find WWII vet

An American flag led to a Memorial Day surprise that an Arizona family will never forget. A few months ago, Lisa Gomez bought an American flag while at a flea market in the Mesa, Arizona, area. Wrapped inside the folded flag was a card containing the name of World War II veteran Donald Peigh, from Hamlet, Indiana, who had served in the U.S. Army from 1943 to 1945.>> Read more trending stories"I just thought, oh my gosh, I can't unfold this flag, it belongs to someone," Gomez told KPHO-TV. "I'm sure the family would love to have it back." Gomez is from a military family herself. Her son is a U.S. Marine and her father was in the U.S. Army. She said she knew she had to find Peigh, or his family, and return the flag.  Gomez tried looking for the veteran on her own, but didn’t have any luck. She asked the help of KPHO-TV, which was able to track down Peigh’s daughter. "I know how much my father's flag means to me, and we have that proudly displayed," Gomez said. "I was just thinking for sure, this means something to someone out there."Peigh's daughter, Patti Peigh, lived nearby in Scottsdale. On Monday, Memorial Day, Gomez met Patti Peigh at her father’s grave site. He passed away 18 years ago and Gomez gave Peigh the flag that belonged to her father.Peigh said she didn’t know the flag even existed. "This is the biggest surprise I've ever had in my life," Peigh said. "This is probably the best day of my life." Now, Peigh says she is happy that her father’s flag is home, where it belongs.  “My dad is in heaven smiling right now, and my mom is saying 'thank you very much,'" Peigh said.

A U.S. veteran's family got a surprise they never expected on Memorial Day, thanks to a woman they had never met.STORY: by CBS 5 AZ - KPHO on Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Disabled veteran holds up flagpole for 9 hours

A disabled veteran showed a touching display of patriotism outside Wingate at Wilbraham, an assisted living facility.

Army specialist Darren Swallow held up a fallen flag for hours on Memorial Day, according to WWLP.

"My girlfriend told me yesterday the flagpole behind us was taken down during a storm or from a plow truck," Swallow said. "So I thought I’d come down and honor our veterans, and let them know they have not been forgotten."

>> Read more trending stories

Swallow, who arrived at 3:30 a.m, told WWLP he planed to stay until 1 p.m. Monday.

The gesture honored veterans who had made the ultimate sacrifice.

Susan Huart, an employee at Wingate at Wilbraham whose two children and son-in-law are in the service, told WWLP "He’s celebrating the veterans because we didn’t have a flagpole, and he came to celebrate the veterans everywhere."

Swallow served multiple tours in Iraq, which left him disabled.

After holding the flag, Swallow went from room to room shaking the hands of veterans in the facility.

A 22News viewer e-mailed us about what she called "a true tribute to our servicemen."Posted by WWLP 22News on Monday, May 30, 2016


The Navy just unveiled the first video of its new railgun in action, and it is awesome

For years, we’ve been hearing about the Navy’s newest high-tech weapon: an electromagnetic railgun. While the railgun has been debuted in public before, the Department of Defense has just released video of the weapon for the first time. A decade of testing and over half a billion dollars of funding has seemingly paid off, judging by the video.

>> Click here to watch the video

Naval engineers tested the weapon inside the concrete bunker of a top-secret facility. The railgun is powered by electromagnetic rails that can send a projectile flying out of the barrel at an astonishing 4,500 miles per hour. It still has to undergo more development and testing, but so far, the railgun is certainly impressive. The 6-inch guns that the Navy currently uses have a range of 15 miles; the 16-inch guns of World War II had a range of 24 miles, and could penetrate 30 feet of concrete. The 38-foot railgun, though, has a range of 125 miles, five times the impact, and can shoot through seven steel plates.

>> Read more trending stories

Even in smaller weapons, using a railgun has been able to successfully extend the range. 6-inch guns using a railgun projectile were able to go from a 15-mile range to 38 miles; the Army’s 155mm howitzers likewise had a farther range.

William Roper, director of the Pentagon’s Strategic Capabilities Office, is clear about what this weapon could mean for the United States. 

“The Navy is on the cusp of having a tactical system, a next generation offensive weapon,” he said. “It could be a game changer.”

WWII veteran returns to Britain 70 years after serving, dies peacefully

U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Melvin Rector was in his 20s when he helped defend Britain 70 years ago during World War II. 

 >> Read more trending stories  

This month, at age 94, Rector decided to leave his home in Barefoot Bay, Florida, to visit the region that he hadn't visited in seven decades.

Through a program conducted by the National World War II Museum in New Orleans that helps people visit war sites, Rector signed up to visit the Royal Air Force station Snetterton Heath, in Norfolk, England.

It was there that he served with the 96th Bomb Group in 1945 as a radio operator and gunner on B-17 Flying Fortress bombers, flying eight combat missions over Germany during the spring of the war’s final year, The Washington Post reported. During many of the missions, his plane took hard hits from dozens of bullets.

Rector was excited to visit the site once again.

“He planned it for like, the last six months,” Darlene O’Donnell, Rector’s stepdaughter, told Floriday Today. “He couldn’t wait to go.”

On May 6, while on the Europe-bound plane flight, the plane's pilot invited Rector to the cockpit, where the two took a photo together.

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“The flight attendant stopped us and said, ‘Mr. Rector, the captain would like to meet you,'” Susan Jowers told Florida Today.

Jowers, a woman who The Washington Post reported had become "almost a daughter" to Rector, had served as his guardian during a 2011 Honor Flight trip to Washington, D.C. She accompanied him on the trip to England.

After touching down, the first site the group visited was RAF Uxbridge, a former Royal Air Force station in the London borough of Hillingdon.

 Rector toured Battle of Britain Bunker, an underground command center where fighter airplane operations were directed during D-Day.

Right after the tour, he told Jowers he felt dizzy.

“He walked out of that bunker like his tour was done,” Jowers said.

Then Rector died peacefully.

“He couldn’t have asked for a better way to go,” Rector's daughter, Sandy Vavruich, told Florida Today. “It was quick and painless. He had just gotten to see two planes, and he passed away between them.”

Rector never got to visit RAF Snetterton Heath.

Before repatriating his remains to the United States, a small service was planned for Rector in Britain -- but the service was anything but small.

“They just wanted something very simple. And when I found a little bit of background out about Melvin, there was no way we were going to just give him a very simple service,” Neil Sherry, the British funeral director in charge of Rector’s service, told ITV London News. “I wanted it to be as special as possible.”

The U.S. Embassy donated a flag to drape over Rector's coffin, and servicemen and women and British historians attended the service to pay their respects to Rector.

“Representation from the Royal Air Force and the British Army I saw here was phenomenal,” U.S. Army Maj. Leif Purcell told ITV London News. “I was expecting just to see myself and maybe two or three other U.S. service members and a priest, and that was it. So it was very delightful to see.”

“I do know of his sacrifice and his family’s sacrifice, so you do him and his family a great honor by being here today," one U.S. serviceman said at the May 18 funeral. 

“He certainly got a beautiful send-off,” Jowers told Florida Today. “People everywhere, from Cambridge to London, heard his story. He completed his final mission."

Rector is survived by six children. His family will pay their respects and celebrate his life June 9 at First Baptist Church in Barefoot Bay.

U.S. Navy sailor sketched Pearl Harbor before he was killed in action

Leonard Franklin Tomlinson, who went by "Frank," is long gone, but he has a story that is timeless. 

>> Read more trending stories 

“He was mama’s brother, the only boy among five sisters,” his niece, Kay Powell, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “His parents were Joseph Patrick and Abbie Hill Tomlinson of Adel (Georgia). His daddy was a lawyer. Uncle Frank regularly sent money home to his mama, my grandmother.”

Frank was a gifted artist, and when he wasn’t attending to duties aboard the U.S.S. Helena, he found time to ply his trade on one onion-skin thin piece of paper at a time.

“His shipmates paid him to create personal cards for their mamas, wives and sweethearts,” Powell said.

His ship survived the Pearl Harbor attack and Frank sent this image home to his mother:

<iframe src="//;border=false" width="100%" height="750" frameborder="no" allowtransparency="true"></iframe><script src="//;border=false"></script>[View the story "U.S. Navy sailor sketched Pearl Harbor before he was killed in action" on Storify]

Right after high school, Frank signed up with the U.S Navy. He hopped aboard the U.S.S. Helena, known as “the fighting ship that went in harm’s way.”

Not quite two years after Pearl Harbor, the U.S.S. Helena was among the vessels involved in the Battle of Kula Gulf, where United States and Japanese ships met off the coast of Kolombangara in the Solomon Islands.  Japanese destroyers pointed their torpedoes in Helena’s direction and she was lost.

“Any(one) who survived the torpedo attack jumped into the shark-infested waters filled with diesel fuel, debris, bodies and body parts,” Powell said. “Like any sailor whose body could not be found, Uncle Frank was declared missing in action.”

Claimed by the sea, Frank never returned to Adel. But his sketch of Pearl Harbor survived, and his niece treasures the item.

Video showing West Point cadet texting during graduation march sparks outrage

Cadets marched Saturday to celebrate the completion of 47 months at West Point and graduation from the United States Military Academy. But instead of a happy send-off, Internet observers took issue with more than a few aspects of the march.

>> Click here or scroll down to learn more

>> Read more trending stories

<iframe src="//;border=false" width="100%" height="750" frameborder="no" allowtransparency="true"></iframe><script src="//;border=false"></script>[View the story "Video showing West Point cadet texting during graduation march sparks outrage" on Storify]

Congress votes to ban Confederate flags from national cemeteries

Congress passed a proposal to limit the presence of Confederate flags in national cemeteries Thursday.

>> Read more trending stories  

The 265-159 vote effectively bans the display of the battle flags at cemeteries that the Department of Veterans Affairs oversees.

The amendment makes it illegal to display the bars and stars, even if the soldier being honored fought for the Confederate States Army.

Rep. Jared Huffman, from California, introduced the proposal as an amendment to a VA spending bill. 

"Over 150 years ago, slavery was abolished. Why in the year 2016 are we still condoning displays of this hateful symbol on our sacred national cemeteries?" Huffman said.

Almost every Democrat and 84 members of the GOP supported the new restriction, while 158 Republicans voted against the amendment.

No one spoke to oppose the restriction during floor debate.

But The Hill reported a top staffer for Rep. Lynn Westmoreland, from Georgia, was disciplined after sending out a mass email comparing efforts to ban the flag to the Islamic State group's "cultural cleansing."

The vote comes nearly one year after the church shooting in Charleston, South Carolina, renewed the national debate about displaying the flag.

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WATCH: Marine surprises teacher mom for emotional reunion in front of third-grade class

A third-grade class got a huge surprise last week that moved some students and their teacher to tears.

Paula Riggs, who was teaching her class at Schrader Elementary School in New Port Richey, Florida, had no idea that her son, Marine Sgt. Paul Riggs, was home from overseas. He had spent the past two years in Okinawa, Japan.

>> Read more trending stories

When he suddenly showed up at her door, she immediately gasped and burst into tears.

In a video of the heartwarming moment, you can hear her students start to chatter amongst themselves, explaining to each other what was going on.

Toward the end of the video, students run across the room to comfort their classmate, Jordan, who started crying at the surprise reunion.

Meanwhile, Paula Riggs hugs her son, telling him, “I love you!”

>> Click here to watch the video

<script>(function(d, s, id) {  var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];  if (d.getElementById(id)) return;  js = d.createElement(s); = id;  js.src = "//;version=v2.6";  fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs);}(document, 'script', 'facebook-jssdk'));</script>Marine Surprises His MomSergeant Paul Riggs returned home today and surprised his mother, Paula Riggs, a Schrader Elementary 3rd grade teacher at school.Posted by Pasco County Schools on Thursday, May 19, 2016

Armed Forces Day: 14 facts you may not know about the U.S. military

On August 31, 1949, the Secretary of Defense, Louis Johnson, had an announcement to make.

Following World War II, the U.S. military hierarchy was being reorganized and redundancies, at least some of them, were being eliminated. The departments of War and of the Navy had been combined in 1947 and called the National Military Establishment. In 1949, the name was changed to the Department of Defense. 

To build morale and to put a new focus on the combined forces, Johnson would announce the creation of a single-day celebration to honor all the members of the military no matter the branch. It was known as Armed Forces Day.

On Saturday we'll celebrate Armed Forces Day, 66 years and one day after the first one was celebrated in 1950.  In honor of and to celebrate U.S. service members today, here are a few things you may not know about the American military.

1. Thirty American presidents served in the U.S. Army, 24 during time of war. Of  the 30, two became 5-star generals – George  Washington and Dwight  Eisenhower. Teddy Roosevelt was awarded the Medal of Honor. --

2.  1,760 PlayStation 3s were used  to build a supercomputer for the Department of Defense. --

3. There are 1.8 million people on active duty, according to the Department of Defense. -- DOD

4. The Department of Defense owns 29,819,492 acres of land worldwide. -- DOD

5. The United States has 737 military installations overseas. -- DOD

6. According to, the Navy’s bell-bottom trousers are believed to have been introduced in 1817 to permit men to roll them above the knee when washing down the decks. In addition, the trousers can be used as a life preserver if  you knot the legs.

7.  The Marine Corps motto is "Semper Fidelis,” Latin for “Always Faithful.”

8. The last time the United States "declared war" was in 1942. -- Wikipedia

9. The U.S. Department of Defense is the world's largest employer. -- DOD

10. The Department of Defense uses 4,600,000,000 US gallons of fuel annually -- DOD

11. Stores on U.S. military bases outside of America will not accept pennies as currency. It’s too expensive to ship them there and back. -- Los  Angeles Times

12. The U.S. military uses a nearly silent type of Velcro which reduces the ripping noise by over 95 percent. -- Reddit

13. A service member in a designated combat zone or hazardous duty area, generally does not have to pay federal income tax on the military pay and reimbursements during his or her service there.   -- Internal Revenue

14. In 1949, a U.S. Army Private First Class – known to the payroll department as an “E-3”  -- took home a monthly check of $99.55 in “basic pay.” That $99.55 came after he had been in the service for 2 years and had  no dependents.

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