FORT A.P. HILL, Va. --
The American flag holds a special meaning to Cpl. Brandon Hawke, embarkation chief, Headquarters and Service Company, 3rd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force.
The flag means so much that he is continuing his goal of escorting his stars and stripes around the world.
“I acquired my flag as a snowboarding bum in Breckenridge, Colorado, in 2000,” said Hawke, a native of Colorado Springs, Colo. “I joined the Corps in 2002 and I’ve taken it everywhere since.”
Hawke took the flag to both sides of the continental United States during his training stages as a Marine. His first duty stations in Okinawa, Japan, gave him the opportunity to roam further with his colors.
“I spent two years with 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion (3rd Marine Division) and Marine Wing Support Squadron 172 and I took the flag to Australia, Korea, Thailand and did humanitarian work during the Philippines’ typhoon relief,” he said.
Hawke’s journey with his 3-by-5 flag continued when the Corps gave him the opportunity to serve in Europe and the Middle East.
“After Okinawa, I took my flag with me to Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 365 (Marine Corps Air Station New River, N.C),” he said. “In 2006, we attached to the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit and went to France, Italy, Jordan, Dubai, Cyprus, Kuwait and Lebanon during the U.S. evacuation of 14,000 citizens.”
Although it doesn’t hang atop a flagpole on every expedition, Hawke said he always unpacks the flag from his belongings, unfurls it and thinks back on the places he’s been and where he’ll eventually take it.
“My flag hangs by my rack like it always does,” he said. “After seeing so many countries and cultures, I’m constantly reminded of the love for my own. I take pride in being an American. That flag reminds me of that no matter where I am.”
His ties to Old Glory probably grew stronger this year during a festival in Colorado Springs, when he took action after spectators alerted him of a flag hanging upside down above a local bank’s 10-story rooftop.
According to a Colorado Springs Independent article, Hawke notified the police and asked if he could climb the fire escape ladder to right the flag, a prank Hawke assumed was done out of disrespect or as an anti-war protest.
“Somebody was just trying to make a statement,” he said. “It was quite satisfying to hear the onlookers below cheer when I hoisted the colors back up.”
Hawke continues to make history with his colors, as his battalion is scheduled to deploy to Iraq early 2008.
“Now I’m assigned to 3/6, and I’m looking forward to taking my flag to Iraq,” he said. “I’m getting closer to getting completely around the world. Not many people can say that. Only seven more time zones to go and my flag will be right there with me.