Memorial US flag found in Las Vegas Valley road

Updated December 24, 2017 - 5:22 pm

While driving home Tuesday morning, Joseph Mascolino was forced to swerve out of a roadway in the southwest valley.

“Was that a flag?” he thought to himself, pressing on the brakes.

Mascolino said he pulled over and put his car in park without thinking twice.

As he waited for traffic to clear near Buffalo Drive and Russell Road, Mascolino, who had grown up in a military family, had an idea of what the triangle-shaped case could mean.

During the next red light, he sprinted toward the box, confirming his suspicions. A veteran had likely died, and the burial flag never made it home with the family.

“Oh, thank God,” he recalled saying aloud after examining the memorial case. The American flag, protected only by the box and a sheet of glass, had not touched the ground.

When a veteran who has served honorably dies, the Department of Veterans Affairs provides a flag to the family as a keepsake. During the funeral, the burial flag is folded into a triangle. But if the flag is lost, damaged or stolen, the VA, by law, cannot issue a replacement.

“So when I saw it, I knew I had to do something to find the family,” Mascolino told the Las Vegas Review-Journal, “because I know this symbolizes their loved one.”

As of Christmas Eve, Mascolino’s Facebook post asking for the public’s help had garnered nearly 300 shares. He said he wants to find the family before the holidays pass.

“You know, not to sound corny, but I’m hoping for a Christmas miracle,” he said Saturday, looking down at the flag. “I figured Vegas is a big city but small town, so maybe somebody will know somebody who lost a flag.”

Mascolino can be reached via email at joemascolino@gmail.com, and he said he is willing to deliver or have the flag shipped to the veteran’s family.

Contact Rio Lacanlale at rlacanlale@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0381. Follow @riolacanlale on Twitter.

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