Flag flying over Eagle Pass again

Nathan Oster

Knocked down but never out, the American flag is flying high above Eagle Pass again thanks to a generous outpouring of support from individuals and businesses in the Big Horn Basin.

Greybull American Legion Post 32, which led the fundraising campaign, unveiled a new flagpole and raised the flag during a brief ceremony Monday, July 4.

Howard Lewis, a Navy veteran from Greybull, planted the flag at that location along U.S. Highway 14 between Greybull and Cody back in 2010 as a way of honoring his mother. The two had often stopped at Eagle Pass for picnics.

Initially the flag hung from a plastic pole, but it kept getting knocked down by the wind so Lewis enlisted the help of Lee Snyder and John Arney of Post 32.

Snyder secured a right-of-way permit from the Bureau of Land Management and he and Arney then proceeded to dig a hole and erect a flagpole that was much sturdier.

For years, the two men took turns replacing the flags when they wore out. Later when it became too cumbersome, volunteers from Greybull’s VFW and Legion posts assumed the responsibility.

When news of the vandalism spread, the community stepped up.

Veda Gerrard read about it in the Standard and took the clipping to a Valentine’s Day dinner at the Elks Lodge. With a coffee can, she she circulated the room asking for donations.

By night’s end, she’d collected $240.

The campaign had begun.

Post 32 proceeded to open an account at the Bank of Greybull.

Mike Laird, owner of Laird Sanitation, donated a M&P by Smith and Wesson 15-22 rifle for a raffle prize, adding $2,000 to the account.  Several anonymous donations of more than $500 came in as well, including one in the amount of $1,650.

Post 32 was blown away by the generosity shown, not only from here in the Big Horn Basin but elsewhere.  Donations arrived from Oklahoma, Louisiana and Georgia, to name just a few.

“We initially thought we’d just refabricate a new pole locally, but when the money started pouring in, we saw we had an opportunity to do something really great, get a commercial pole and go first class with it,” said Bobby Werner, commander of Post 32.

Several companies contributed to the cause as well.

Top Cut Manufacturing provided the pipe casings that became the four bollards that surround the new flagpole.

Big Horn Redi-Mix donated the concrete required to pour the base and fill the bollards.

Rhino Rentals of Powell loaned a manlift.

Brent Johnston, co-owner of Sterling Enterprises, his sons Preston and Dillon and brother Mike, provided the labor, donated the use of excavation equipment for the removal of the damaged pole, made the forms, poured the concrete and set the new flagpole in place.

In all, Post 32 spent $3,100 in materials and expended more than 80 labor hours on the flagpole project. Money that remains in the account will be used to maintain the Eagle Pass flagpole and erect flagpoles at the east, south and north entrances to Greybull, Werner said.

“The main thing I want to do is really stress our thanks to community and everyone who donated their money, time and labor,” said  Werner.