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Veterans group dedicates flag for Harpers Ferry's namesake ship

December 13, 1999

Battle flagBy JULIE E. GREENE / Staff Writer

photo: KEVIN G. GILBERT / staff photographer




HARPERS FERRY, W.Va. - A local veterans group raised a new flag over Harpers Ferry Monday before sending it to its the city's namesake Navy vessel, the USS Harpers Ferry.

"The people of Harpers Ferry are proud to support the USS Harpers Ferry," said Harry Biller, the liaison between the Navy ship and the Harpers Ferry-Bolivar District Veterans Association.

About a dozen members of the veterans group endured rain and cold wind Monday afternoon to raise the flag in front of the Hilltop House Hotel.

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The 9-by-14-foot white flag, standing out in front of a misty mountain backdrop, whipped around in the wind over the Potomac River for about two minutes before members folded it up.

The flag bears the Harpers Ferry's motto, "First in Freedom," a depiction of two 1805 pistols manufactured in Harpers Ferry and "LSD 49."

LSD 49 stands for Landing Ship Dock 49, as the Harpers Ferry is known in Navy nomenclature. The ship, currently in port at San Diego, was commissioned Jan. 7, 1995, Biller said.

A landing ship dock carries and launches assault craft for beach landings.

It is Navy tradition for each ship to have its own battle flag, which is flown when entering and leaving ports and at the discretion of the commanding officers, Biller said.

The Navy ship has been without such a flag for its five years, said Air Force veteran Biller, 63.

"It's something to show. These people like to be recognized," Biller said.

Biller will personally deliver the flag to the captain of the USS Harpers Ferry before Christmas, he said.

Local businesses, citizens and association members contributed to the $1,135 cost of the flag and a smaller 3-by-5-foot version, Biller said. The group will carry the smaller flag during parades.

Originally the flag was to fly over the town at the Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, but association members didn't want to disturb the American flag hanging at half-staff in honor of a park ranger killed in the line of duty in Hawaii over the weekend, Biller said.

Instead, association members unfolded the flag at the park before taking it to the hotel's flagpole for its ceremonial raising.

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