Alabaster officers replace veteran’s vandalized flag

Published 2:37 pm Monday, November 2, 2015

Alabaster police officers present U.S. Air Force veteran Thomas Feltman, left, with a new American flag on Nov. 1. (Contributed)

Alabaster police officers present U.S. Air Force veteran Thomas Feltman, left, with a new American flag on Nov. 1. (Contributed)

By NEAL WAGNER / Managing Editor

ALABASTER – Eighty-three-year-old Thomas Feltman had only called the Alabaster Police Department on Nov. 1 to file an incident report after he noticed the American flag in his front yard had been vandalized. He was surprised to see seven police cars returning to his house about 30 minutes later.

“I came in the house after making the report, and the officer called me back about 30 minutes later and asked if he could bring some other guys over to take a look at the flag,” Feltman said during a Nov. 2 interview. “I looked out the window, and seven police cars were coming down the road.”

As he does every morning, Feltman gazed out his front window at the American flag shortly after waking up on Nov. 1. But instead of seeing the tribute to the United States he usually sees, Feltman saw a tattered, barely hanging red, white and blue cloth.

“It looked like an old, wet dishrag, really,” Feltman said, noting he believes the flag was vandalized on Halloween night. “I never will figure out why someone would do that. I just don’t know.”

Feltman, who served 21 years in the U.S. Air Force, including action in the Korean and Vietnam wars, called the Alabaster Police Department to report the vandalism at about 6:45 a.m., and officer John St. Pierre responded to the residence. After taking the information for the report, St. Pierre contacted the other officers on his shift and told them what happened.

“When they heard about it, they all pitched in to buy Mr. Feltman a new flag from Lowe’s,” Alabaster Police Chief Curtis Rigney said.

After the eight officers on the “A” patrol shift purchased the flag, they caravanned to Feldman’s house to deliver and raise the new flag and properly dispose of the damaged flag.

“They said ‘We’ve got something we want to give you,’” Feltman said. “There were about 12 of us out there, and we stood and saluted while they raised the new flag. After that, we all shook hands and hugged necks.”

Rigney said the officers did not publicize their actions, and said he only heard about it when Feltman’s daughter sent the department a thank-you letter on Nov. 2.

“I have never been more proud to be an Alabaster police officer after hearing what they did,” Rigney said.

But while Feltman’s family is focusing praise on the APD, Rigney said it should be the other way around.

“We are close to Veterans Day, and we need to be thanking Mr. Feltman for the sacrifices he made for our country to keep all of us safe,” Rigney said.