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Guard member brings flag back from Iraq

Staff Sgt. Jeffrey Ott honors colleagues with tribute; jail hosts ceremony

Staff Sgt. Jeffrey Ott honors colleagues with tribute; jail hosts ceremony

October 21, 2009|By JENNIFER FITCH

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. -- Stitched into the American flag flown over the Franklin County Jail on Wednesday was a story.

A plaque for the case that will later display it will tell the story of how it flew over Taji, Iraq, on May 22, 2009.

Staff Sgt. Jeffrey Ott of the Pennsylvania National Guard's Stryker Brigade flew the flag in tribute to his colleagues from Franklin County Jail, where he works as a correctional officer.

Warden John Wetzel said he was touched to learn Ott thought of his co-workers while serving in a war zone.

"It's a proud moment for us," Wetzel said as the flag snapped in the breeze, framed by white clouds and a blue sky.

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The jail hosted a ceremony Wednesday morning to recognize the flag and Ott's service.

Ott, of Shippensburg, Pa., said he was thankful his colleagues allowed him extra time off before deploying to spend time with his newborn son. When he returned in September, the toddler, Gavin, didn't want to leave his mother.

Father and son are bonding again before Ott returns to work Monday.

Ott served in fire support with Battery B, 108th Field Artillery. He purchased the flag, took it to base officials, flew it and received a certificate commemorating the event.

"It was a way to say thank you," Ott said.

"We have a lot of staff members who were deployed and are deployed," Wetzel said, imploring ceremony attendees to keep those people in their prayers.

"We're always happy when they come back, and we're very proud of our veterans," he said.

Wetzel contacted the Franklin County Office of Veterans Affairs to learn how to display the flag properly. Charles Nitterhouse VFW Post 1599 provided an honor guard for the flag-raising.

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