Vet provides flags for troops

October 6, 2007 - 12:33AM

Rick Snow of New Bern is trying to give deploying Marines a little piece of home to take with them.

Snow, a Vietnam veteran who served in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1966 to 1970 is taking part in the Pocket Flag Project - one that holds a special place in Snow's heart.

"I carried a flag around with me in Vietnam. When times got tough, I took the flag out, and it reminded me what I was fighting for," he said.

The Pocket Flag Project is an international effort to get as many pocket flags as possible into the hands of military personnel on the front lines, according to the project's Web site. The pocket version is an 8-inch-by-13-inch American flag that is folded in the traditional 13-fold style.

The folded flag is placed in a small plastic bag with a card that reads "A flag for your pocket so you can always carry a little piece of home. We are praying for you and we are proud of you. Thank you for defending our country and our freedom."

As of Sept. 25, the Pocket Flag Project has sent out 1.08 million flags to be folded, according to LuWanda Ford, chairman of the Pocket Flag Project.

Snow, a volunteer with the United Service Organizations of North Carolina's Jacksonville center, got involved with the project in August. He often attends deployments with the USO and helps hand out care packages.

"About a month ago, we sent quite a few Marines for deployments, and we didn't have the flags," he said. "I made myself a promise that another Marine will not leave Jacksonville without a flag."

Since then, he has been busy trying to get the Pocket Flag Project off the ground locally. Snow says it's been hard to get the project going. Besides Snow, there are only about five other volunteers from the USO helping to fold flags. Judy Robinson, assistant director of the USO's Jacksonville center said that other volunteers are helping the project by handing out the flags at deployments.

To participate in the project, volunteers may visit the Web site,, and order the precut flags that come in boxes of 300 for $65. Once the flags come in, they have to be folded and packaged. Snow is expecting an order of 3,000 flags next week. He said that everyone involved has been generous in helping, but it's not enough.

"I need a lot of help folding flags. Any group that knows they can fold flags, I'll furnish the flags, the cards and the bags," Snow said. "I need people to help fold the flags and the funds to buy the flags."

His personal goal is to have 6,000 flags ready to hand out.

"When the USO calls (about a deployment), I want to have enough flags folded and ready," he said.

So far, Snow has folded about 100 flags himself. He said it takes about five minutes, "if you know what you're doing.

"Ideally they shouldn't have any red showing, and it's hard," he said.

The New Bern Young Marines has 20 volunteers to help fold flags.

"I think it's an excellent project. Every year we do Veterans Appreciation Week, and each of the Young Marine units are required to sign up for some kind of project to do for veterans. So we are going to use this as our project," said Ernest Flowers, a former Marine and commanding officer of the New Bern Young Marines program said.

Snow has also enlisted the help of the New Bern Fire Department.

"He brought in some 300plus flags, and between the three shifts we were able to fold them for him. I know on my shift we folded 179," NBFD Lt. Tony Heckman said. "I absolutely support it (the project) 100 percent. Anything to help the troops, anything at all."

The fire department plans to continue folding flags as time allows.

Snow wants people to know that it's not about politics.

"Regardless of what people think about the war, you support the troops," he said.

In the end, it's all about the flags.

"I'm just out to give flags," Snow said. "I'm gonna do it, come hell or high water."

Contact Molly DeWitt at or 910-353-1171, ext. 8452.