Sgt. Bluff Legion members repurpose used flags to make military memorabilia bags | Columnist: Nick Hytrek

SERGEANT BLUFF – In the military tradition performed during a memorial service for a veteran, the 21-shot salute drew everyone’s attention.

Three remarkable volleys caused a flinch for some of those in attendance.

Often unnoticed is what happens after those shots have been fired. Used shell casings are collected and then given to the family, a final symbol of their veteran’s service.

It’s an icon that Vince Bugg feels could be presented better.

Vince Bugg American Legion clamshell bag

Vince Bugg, sergeant major with Sergeant Bluff’s George Nelson American Legion Post 662, describes how he used small American flags to make bags to store used cartridges from his 21st Shot Corps salute at military funerals. Bugg made a bag for each funeral Sergeant Bluff posted and made them for others who requested them as well.

Tim Hynds, Sioux City Magazine

When Bugg became a sergeant at George Nelson American Legion Post 662 in Sergeant Bluff and took on the responsibility of organizing funerals for veterans, he thought there had to be a more respectful way to give those pods to the family. Carrying them in a cupped hand, then handing them over to the family doesn’t seem right.

“It was awkward to drop a bunch of shells into their hands,” says Bugg.

He has switched to using plastic bags, but it doesn’t seem to fit very well.

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Then he thought about the little American flags that are retired each year after spending the previous 12 months marking the graves of veterans. Perhaps they could serve a purpose other than being burned along with the other retired flags.

“I’ve got all these flags in good condition and it seems like a waste to throw them away,” Bugg said.

He tinkered with ideas, taking old flags folded like this and that. He decided to go for a design in which he folded the flag, sewed it closed on three sides, then added a Velcro tie at the open end. When finished, he had a small bag containing all 21 seashells – much more precious than a plastic bag.

These flags all stood guard for a fallen soldier, Bugg said. Now they have a second sentry to hold a soldier’s ammo,” Bugg said.

Vince Bugg American Legion clamshell bag

Vince Bugg, sergeant of Sergeant Major Bluff’s US Army George Nelson, displays a bag he made for the funeral of Harry Nichols, a Sioux City man killed aboard the USS Oklahoma at Pearl Harbor and his comedy His remains were recently identified and brought back for burial. Bugg made bags to hold used cartridges from the 21-shot shooting at a military funeral, then gave the bag to the veteran’s family.

Tim Hynds, Sioux City Magazine

Bugg wrote the soldier’s name and service information on the stripes of the flag in pencil and ink. He also gave a list of the names of the shooting team members and who played Taps, as well as his business cards to inform the family that, if they wished, he could provide photos of the shooting team at service.

He handed the bag over to his family at the end of the ceremony, informing them that the three balls shot during the ceremony were for honor, duty and country.

“I say your loved one has fulfilled all of those obligations,” said Bugg, a retired firefighter at the 185th Refueling Wing, the Iowa National Air Force, where he served. for 21 years, say.

Bugg presented the bag with the stars facing up, then flipped it over to reveal the deceased veteran’s name and service information. In some cases, the information he wrote down could be more than what the service soldier ever revealed to family members.

“It’s just something a little more for the family,” he said. “He thinks this is a bit more touching. It has a history and a name.”

For more than two years, Bugg has been making bags for every service that the Sergeant Bluff Legion position participates in, along with others who request them. He made bags for two Woodbury County men who died aboard the USS Oklahoma at Pearl Harbor and whose remains were recently identified and returned home for burial.

Bugg urges young veterans to join the American Legion or other service organizations to get enough people to join firing squads and perform other military ceremonies at veterans’ funerals. future. He shared his clamshell bag ideas with other posts as an easy way to add tribute to a veteran’s funeral.

“This guy has done so much for his country. I want to do as much as possible for him,” Bugg said.

Long after the firing squad’s gunfire died down, the bullets were still wrapped in the American flag and held in their honor, like the memory of the veteran they represented.

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