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Operation Fallen Flags gets help, returns favor

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CHERRY VALLEY (WREX) — A group of veterans that brings American flags to people across the area needed some help continuing their mission after their truck broke down.

"It (the truck) wasn't stopping the way it should, so they gave us the opportunity to take a look at it [and] it was our honor to do it for them," Bob Augustyn, a service manager at Lou Bachrodt AutoMall, says.

For his help, the group, dubbed Operation Fallen Flags, gave Augustyn the honorary title of "Captain Bob" for his work and support. That's because mechanics at Lou Bachrodt fixed up the 1989 GMC 3500, or "Miss Glory," for free. They told 13 WREX it was an honor to help the veterans.

Sgt. Nick Parnello, a Vietnam veteran and the founder of Operation Fallen Flags, started the group three years ago as a way to work with younger veterans who were coming home.

In addition, the group also goes to local schools to teach kids about the flag and what it means to be a veteran. Sgt. Parnello says the generosity of the Lou Bachrodt staff fixing the truck for free is a gift not just for him, but for all veterans.

"Oh, love, love man, it's all about love," Sgt. Parnello says. "I bought the truck, but it's no longer my truck. It's everybody's truck."

We got to take a ride in Miss Glory, which featured flashing lights and patriotic music, once it was completed.

Operation Fallen Flags went on its next mission, to put up a flag at the home of Jan Fromm. Fromm had family members who served in the military. She had wanted an American flag in front of her home as a tribute to them.

She told 13 News she'd been waiting nearly a decade for the flag to fly outside her home. She'd had trouble finding someone to help her. Monday, Operation Fallen Flags came by her house in Cherry Valley and raised the "stars and stripes" proudly.

"When I mentioned I was waiting over 10 years, this property, to have the flag up here, and this is what happened," Fromm says with tears in her eyes. "They responded and I can't thank them enough."

Richard Bodee

Richard Bodee is a reporter at WREX. He joined the 13 WREX team in June 2019 after graduating from DePaul University with a Master’s degree in broadcast journalism.

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