A flag for the fallen
by Gary Kent
May 01, 2011 | 1773 views | 0 0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
José S. Montemayor
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When the Navy veterans drove through the front gate at Chase Field during the first weekend of April, many of them probably did not notice something different about the American flag flying from the pole there.

The flag was pretty much like any other version of the Stars and Stripe, except that it was longer than regular copies of Old Glory that usually fly from flagpoles.

That was because the national ensign had once draped the coffin of a solder killed in Vietnam.

Jimmy Montemayor, field supervisor for the Bee Development Authority at the Chase Field Industrial and Airport Complex, said the flag had been taken from the casket of his brother, José S. Montemayor, by an Army honor guard in 1968, folded and handed to his mother.

Montemayor now has the flag and has kept in a case in a place of honor in his home.

“And it’s been folded ever since,” Montemayor said. “I just wanted to see it fly.”

He felt the weekend of the annual NAS Chase Field reunion would be the perfect opportunity to hoist that flag so he asked BDA Executive Director Joe B. Montez if he could do so for that event.

Montez said he thought it would be an honor to grace the pole at the gate with the flag.

It flew that weekend but now it’s folded up again and stashed away. The flag had its moment in the sun.

Montemayor is also a veteran. His time in uniform was cut short because he was injured during basic training and medically discharged.

But his brother completed his training and became an infantryman. As a specialist fourth class, the soldier had been in the Army only 14 months when his unit, a part of the First Infantry Division, was engaged in combat on March 12, 1968. That was the day the 25-year-old Odem native was killed.

Although the Montemayors were living in West Texas at the time, they returned to Odem to bury their brother and son. It was where their roots still were and where they wanted to lay José to rest.

“When it flew, it brought chills to my spine,” Montemayor said. “There were a lot of memories.”

Montemayor said he stayed in West Texas until 1980 when got the chance to move back to the area. His wife was from Beeville and she had always wanted to return.

And here was the perfect place for José’s flag finally to unfold and wave goodbye in the South Texas breeze.

Gary Kent is a reporter at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 358-2550, ext. 120, or at reporter@mySouTex.com.
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