Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, Calif. -- Three Marines silently marched and halted at the towering flagpole. The evening sun lit the colors of the flag brightly above them against an ever-darkening sky. As a sharp bugle call blasted through the still air with the sounds of “Retreat,” the detail began lowering the flag into waiting arms, folded it and brought it to retire for the night until dawn’s first light.
This simple routine is performed daily not only aboard the Combat Center, but at U.S. military installations throughout the world. However, on Nov. 7, the playing of evening colors was a full 15 minutes early to allow a local Marine to pay tribute to a fallen family member as the desert sun set.
Carrying on a tradition he began five years ago, Maj. Matthew T. Good, operations and training officer, 3rd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, along with his 4-year-old son, Jacob, hoisted and flew the internment flag of Good’s grandfather, a World War II veteran, above the Combat Center as his wife, family and friends watched.
“This is the flag of my grandfather, Gene D. Good, who served in Patton’s 3rd Army during the second world war,” said Good. “He won a couple of bouts with cancer and lost his third in 1997. This is his internment flag, and I’ve have flown it nearly every year since then.”
“He was born on Nov. 2, and passed away on Nov. 10, so right around the time of the Marine Corps birthday we fly his flag somewhere,” said Good. “It’s great to have my son and family out here to be part of this with me.”
Good, an Andrews, Texas, native, began the tradition in 2000 while he was stationed in Austin, Texas. For three consecutive years it flew in the Lone Star State at various locations around Austin including the Texas State Capitol building, the Texas National Guard Headquarters and the Naval and Marine Reserve Center.
Since 2003, the flag has flown at Quantico, Va., and Habbaniya, Iraq in 2004.
“To my grandmother, this is a great way to remember her husband,” said Good. “This is also a great way to remember veterans because it falls under Veterans Day and it’s a teaching tool for my sons. Not only that, but it’s also a chance for us to get together to remember those who served our country.”
“Right now this may not mean a whole lot to my sons, because I think the only things that mean a lot to them right now are Elmo and snack time,” remarked Good. “But I think that as they get older, it helps them know their great-grand-dad and I think it’s important to teaching kids reverence and respect. Not only that, but I also hope it will allow them to connect with the society they live in one day.”
For allowing keeping his tradition alive, Good said he was very appreciative of the support he received from his unit.
“This was a lot more pomp and flair than I had expected tonight and I’m very honored to have the opportunity to fly it here,” said Good. “This happens at a great time of year and I love to do it.”