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A flag flown on the USS America on Sept. 11, 2018 is currently in the hands of the Zionsville Professional Firefighters Association Local 4416.
As part of the ongoing R.E.D. (Remember Everyone Deployed) program, ZFD sent a care package to U.S. Navy Captain Luke Frost, the brother of ZFD Deputy Chief Josh Frost. In return, Captain Frost sent a flag flown on the USS America on Sept. 11 along with an official certificate of flag presentation signed by Captain Daniel Nowicki.
The ship was moored at Naval Base San Diego.
“It’s an amazing gift, but we certainly don’t expect anything in return,” said Firefighter/Paramedic Walter Leverich. “The idea behind the R.E.D. program is to take care of those deployed so we can show them that we recognize they are there and appreciate them.”
As part of the R.E.D. program, every Friday firefighters wear red and encourage the public to wear red as a way to show support and appreciation for military members and veterans. Firefighters who wear red have the option to voluntarily donate $2 to be used for supplies for care packages to send to troops. As another component of the program, ZFD publicly recognizes firefighters who have served. Currently, 11 ZFD firefighters have served or are serving in the U.S. military.
In partnership with Zionsville Professional Firefighters Local 4416, and with support of ZFD Chief VanGorder, ZFD launched the program last fall. Leverich, an army veteran who received a R.E.D. care package when he was deployed in Iraq, along with Lieutenant Steve Hayes, helped spearhead the program within the department.
“I am extremely proud of Local 4416 for presenting this program, and the ZFD members that have served or are serving our country,” Chief VanGorder added.
The department has used connections in the community to send packages to relatives of Town of Zionsville employees or relatives of Zionsville residents. With Fire Marshal Frost’s brother being a U.S. Navy Captain, ZFD sent a care package directly to the navy last August.
ZFD plans to display the flag and certificate in Town Hall so that the public can view it.
“It gives me goosebumps just thinking that this flag was flown over the USS America on Sept. 11,” said Lieutenant Hayes.
The R.E.D. program will continue indefinitely with the exception of a hiatus in October, when the firefighters wear pink for Breast Cancer Awareness. ZFD is currently looking for names of those deployed who have a connection to Zionsville or Boone County.