Alabama gov, in reversal, sends deployed soldier a state flag [UPDATED]


The Alabama flag flies in a 2009 Veterans Day Parade in downtown Huntsville. (Army photo)

An interesting item in the Birmingham News:  Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley refused a soldier’s request for a state flag to make Afghanistan feel a little more like home, saying it simply could not afford it.  Then Bentley changed his mind–presumably after the story hit the papers–and agreed to comp the E-7.

Sgt. 1st Class Howard J. Blake Jr. had offered to send the governor a photo of himself and other soldiers flying the flag overseas.  “I understand that you have more important things to do than send things out to the other side of the planet, but this would surely make our stay here feel more like home, a home back in Bama that we all talk about almost daily.”

Jennifer Ardis, Bentley’s press secretary, said that the governor’s office gives state flags to the next of kin of Alabamians who die while serving in the U.S. armed forces, but cannot afford to give flags to other people.  She said the governor’s office gets 50 to 100 requests per month for state flags from church and school groups, people celebrating retirements and weddings, soldiers about to be deployed and many other people.

A 3-foot by 5-foot nylon flag retails for $30.

Blake told the Birmingham News that he has paid Alabama income taxes for years even though he hasn’t lived there. He added, “I do not feel that I am entitled to any special treatment just because I am a soldier, but I did feel abandoned by a home state that I am proud to be from.”

In a sarcastic e-mail to Blake’s office, he wrote,  Blake wrote in an e-mail to the governor’s secretary, “Enjoy your day in an air-conditioned office while we continue to sweat out here, defending your right to be so aloof to your constituents.”

Is this a soldier with a sense of entitlement who over-played his patriotism card or was this a legit request?


About Author


  1. Are you kidding? A deployed E-7 can’t afford a 30 dollar flag?! Bull. If you were proud of your state you wouldn’t put it in a position here it had to tell you no and get publicly ridiculed. Where did you get such a sense of entitlement SFC? What a tool….

  2. [comment edited]

    What kind of a “chicken s— outfit” is this guy in, and who made this guy an E-7? When I’m in “Indian Country” I don’t have time to read a newspaper, never mind having the time to try to get the Gov. of AL impeached. He’s a platoon sergeant, he’s got at least 40 soldier’s lives to worry about. I know what he’s been doing this week, who’s running his platoon? Who’s letting this guy run around loose? Doesn’t he have a platoon leader, company, batallion, brigade commander? This guy’s causing trouble all over AL, where’s the Army to shut this guy up.

    He knew for at least a year before he deployed he was going. He’s making more money than he ever dreamed of; he’s had his new house, car, etc. all picked out before he left, he couldn’t pick up an AL flag?

    SFC Blake says he’s paid enough AL taxes to buy thousands of flags. He says he hasn’t lived here in years. He could have paid taxes in the state in which he was stationed. He paid in AL because they were cheaper than where ever he was stationed. No loyalty there, just paying as little as he could. For the ability to pay as little as he could we owe him a flag? I’ll have to check with the soldiers from Maine to find out how many lobsters the govenor is sending his deployed soldiers that pay their taxes.

    SFC Blake is issued the flag the Army wants him to have; the US Flag patch for his uniform. If his CO deemed an AL flag was necessary in any way for his MWR, he would have ordered one for SFC Blake out of discretionary funds, or had supply order one through the system. Nobody owes SFC Blake an Alabama flag, or a picture of his dog, or an autographed picture of the homcoming queen at the high school in Phoenix City the year he graduated.

    Afganistan is an independent soverign coutry. There is no right of anyone from Alabama to fly their flag in that country. The status of forces agreement with Afganistan specifically sets down the rules for what flags are flown, and where. Again, is this guy not serving under officers?

    For all the people that envision SFC Blake in a foxhole dreaming about a bar of soap, I can assure you that he was freshly hot showered, just had a catered meal in a mess hall and is sitting in an A/C space talking to the AP on a computer, and obviously has nothing to do.

    I am so sorry for Gov. Bentley from AL. He’s stomping out forest fires every minute he’s awake, and the US Army lets this guy run around loose with no fear of retribution, causing the governor trouble.

    Clauswitz said “The ability of an army to fight is in direct relationship to that army’s ability to withstand hardship”. God help the United States and her army.

  3. Is this a soldier with a sense of entitlement who over-played his patriotism card or was this a legit request? Are you kidding me? If you had the full story, I stated numerous times that I did not feet any special entitlement due to my active duty or deployed status. My only issue with the refusal was the way I was so easily dismissed by the secretary. Sure I could have purchased my own flag, but thought that as a citizen of the state, I would be given a flag with no problem. I am not the only soldier to ever ask a state for a flag. There are many soldiers that take advantage of their deployed status to get items from businesses as well as soldier support groups..I did not do this.
    Everyone is entitled to their opinion and I do not have to agree with yours…however the person above…lifer….needs to come spend a week here where we are before he/she starts babbling about me being in an air conditioned office, a fresh shower and a mess hall. Those luxuries are a rarity in our AO. I guarantee I have more deployments than Lifer does and have dealt with many hardships on them. “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone”. Before you talk about my feet, walk a mile in my shoes.

  4. stating that you don’t “feel” any special entitlement doesn’t in fact make it true. I am so sick and tired of servicemen and women playing the patriotism card to whine when they don’t get their way. BTW been there, done that. And I didn’t use my rank, my office or my service to get freebies. It’s called “SELFLESS SERVICE,” not “I’ll serve but you gotta give me stuff or else I’ll go running to the press.”

  5. Haha!! I can’t believe it! I’m like a bum on a corner. I’m not afraid to ask for or take free stuff, hell everyone else does at some point in life. Don’t cry when I don’t get it though.

  6. Hey Lifer…get a life. You think you know about this Blake guy but you don’t know squat. That guy is my plt sgt and does an excellent job taking care of us and others. He has more deployments and more Purple Hearts than anyone else in our Brigade. Before you pass Judgment know what you are talking about.
    Our camp has NO AC…NO SHOWERS and SFC Blake has every right in the world to fly whatever flag he wants in his SMALL 6X6 Personal space. As for the taxes, SFC Blake could have used Texas as his home of residence as he was stationed there …and they pay NO TAXES..but he kept ALabama as his home of residence out of pride.
    You are more than welcome to come meet him personally when he gets back from his 5th year long deployment, and tell him face to face what you feel…but I assure you his entire unit will be behind him from his BC on down.
    Only jackasses with no life talk crap about someone online without the cajones to say anything in person..enjoy your retirment home while we soldiers continue doing what real soldiers do.

Reply To Lifer Cancel Reply