KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, Afghanistan (12/23/2012) – When the word
legacy comes to mind, one envisions an elderly person
leaving their empire behind to a family member. One example
is the movie "Little Big League" when the owner of the
Minnesota Twins passed away and left his legacy of the Twins
to his grandson in middle school. Legacies are not limited
to businesses or franchises, but often include family
heirlooms such as a necklace, pocket watch, or a flag.
Capt. Matt Louer, Headquarters and
Headquarters Company, 25th Combat Aviation Brigade, and Chief
Warrant Officer 3 Jason Call, 2nd Squadron, 6th Cavalry Regiment,
25th CAB, pause for a photo with the Hoe Battle Flag before flying a
mission with the Hoe Battle Flag on Thanksgiving Day (November 22,
2012) on Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan. Louer has the honor to fly
the Hoe Battle Flag on Thanksgiving for his last flight in the Army.
One such legacy is an American flag cared for by Allen K.
Hoe. The 25th Combat Aviation Brigade had the opportunity to
be a small part of the legacy during its deployment to
Afghanistan. The flag has been watching over soldiers
deployed to Afghanistan, Iraq, and Vietnam since 1967.
Allen Hoe began the legacy of the Hoe Battle Flag in
December of 1967 during his time in Recon Team Snoopy, 2nd
Battalion, 1st Infantry Regiment, 196th Light Infantry
Brigade in Vietnam.
“This flag is more than just an
assemblage of cloth and thread,” said Allen Hoe, a native of
Honolulu, and a lawyer who also serves as a Civilian Aide to
the secretary of the Army. “It remains a remarkable living
symbol of duty, honor, and country. As the combat medic in
the battalion's long range recon team, I carried the largest
pack so I had room to carry the flag. That is what soldiers
did, pick up bits and pieces of home and carry them as
talisman of honor or tribute.”
The battle flag was
carried by Allen Hoe in 1967 and 1968 across the
battlefields of Vietnam. On Mother's Day in 1968, the battle
flag's special mission came into sharp focus when Hoe's
platoon lost 18 soldiers to include their platoon leader 1st
Lt. Frederick Ransbottom. The surviving members of the
platoon requested Hoe carry the flag with him until their
platoon leader's body was recovered.
“Those of us who
survived promised if and when [Ransbottom's] remains were
recovered, we would attend his services and present this
flag to his family,” stated Allen Hoe.
safeguarded the flag for 30 years until it returned to
Vietnam in 1998. Bill Wright, and Dickie Hites of the Joint
Prisoners of War, Missing in Action Accounting Command,
carried the flag while continuing the search for Ransbottom
and another undiscovered member of the platoon, Skip
In 2004, it was carried by Marine Capt.
Rodrigo Cantu, an aide to camp for Maj. Gen. Eric Olson,
25th Infantry Division Commander at the time, for the flag's
first deployment to Afghanistan. It was flown over the
Headquarters of Combined Joint Task Force 76 in honor of the
men of Recon Team Snoopy on Sept. 11, 2004, at Bagram Air
The next chapter for the flag began in Oct.
2004 with 2nd Platoon. Company C, 3-21 Inf., Gimlets, 1st
Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th ID. The soldier requesting
to carry the flag was Allen Hoe's son, 1st Lt. Nainoa Hoe.
“My son asked me one day to send him the Recon Battle
Flag,” recalled Allen Hoe. “He said ‘my men want to carry it
to honor the men who served with you in Vietnam, especially
in honor of your lieutenant, Fred Ransbottom. So began its
second journey, if you will; a son's tribute to his dad and
the men he served with in combat.”
The flag's trip to
Mosul in 2004 with Nainoa Hoe's platoon was a symbolic way
to connect the father's generation of soldiers to his son's
generation of soldiers.
“The specialness of the flag
was not lost on my son Nainoa and his Outlaws, 2nd Platoon,
C/3-12 Inf.,” Allen Hoe said. “He had grown up knowing the
story of its legacy and what it represented, to dad and his
buddies who fought in Vietnam.”
On Jan. 22, 2005, 1st
Lt. Nainoa Hoe was carrying the battle flag on a mission in
the neighborhood of Palastine in the Ninevah Province when
they were engaged by a sniper who shot and killed Nainoa
Hoe. Two days later at the memorial services for Nainoa Hoe,
the flag watched over his fellow soldiers as they grieved
for their loss.
“Is it fate that the battle flag
which protected me through the grim days of 1967 and 1968 in
Vietnam would be carried by my son Nainoa and his platoon
the day he was killed in Iraq,” questioned Allen Hoe. Two
years later, the U.S. Army dedicated the battle simulation
training center at Schofield Barracks as the 1st Lt. Nainoa
K. Hoe Battle Command Training Center as the flag flew in
After the loss of his son, Allen Hoe
continued the legacy of the battle flag by sending it with
soldiers on significant dates and missions. The flag watched
over soldiers from Allen Hoe's old Battalion, 2-1 Inf., as
they conducted combat patrols on Mother's Day 2006, after
they replaced Nainoa's unit in Iraq.
In 2006, the
remains of Allen Hoe's platoon leader and Skivington were
discovered where they had laid for 38 years. The flag was
also flown in ceremonies for the return of Ransbottom and
Skivington to Hickam Air Force Base, the replanting and
dedication of the Olive “Freedom Tree” planted in honor of
Skivington in 1972, and burial ceremonies of Ransbottom and
Skivington. Allen Hoe had fulfilled his promise to his
platoon. But the legacy continued.
“As long as our
country is compelled to send our men and women in uniform
into harm's way to serve our cause for freedom, the battle
flag will be there to lend a little of its own spirit as a
symbol of what is most important to each of us who have had
the duty and honor to serve our country,” said Allen Hoe.
The flag is symbolic for soldiers who served with Nainoa
Hoe and the history of the flag is shared with those who do
not know him by those who did know Nainoa Hoe.
2007, it was present at Camp Darby, Italy, for the promotion
ceremony of Nainoa's platoon sergeant Corey Myers for his
promotion to first sergeant. The flag was carried by Lt.
Col. Mackey, who served with Nainoa Hoe in Mosul, during a
deployment with 2nd Squadron, 14th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd
Brigade, 25th ID to Iraq. The purpose of this trip was to
fly the flag over the battlefield on Jan. 22, 2008 to
symbolize the continuing commitment to duty, honor, and
country of the Hoe family.
Other family members of
the Hoe family continued the legacy as well as many of
Nainoa's comrades. Nainoa Hoe's brother, Staff Sgt. Nakoa
Hoe, carried the flag continuing the mission of duty, honor,
and country and to honor the men who fought alongside his
father, brother and all men and women who have given their
last full measure of devotion to freedom.
provides them with a connection, if you will, with [Nainoa's]
warrior spirit,” Allen Hoe said. “It also provides them with
a sense of duty, honor, and country to take it down range
and bring it home again.”
Adding to the legacy, the
25th CAB had the honor to safeguard and fly it during its
deployment to Afghanistan.
Allen Hoe requested the
25th CAB to carry the battle flag during their deployment.
“I wanted to share the legacy of service with the young
warriors who served with the 25th CAB with the soldiers of
my generation, the Vietnam veterans. I also wanted it to fly
again with the UH-60 Black Hawks as it did 45 years ago with
another legacy, the UH-1 Huey.”
Commander Col. Frank Tate was proud to have the opportunity
to continue the legacy.
“While entrusted with the
flag, we sought to travel to every corner our Brigade serves
in to share the story, history and honor of the flag with as
many of our soldiers as possible,” said Col. Frank Tate,
25th CAB Commander. “It is a huge honor to play a small part
in the proud lineage and history of the battle flag and
continue the tradition of the 25th [ID] carrying it into
combat in honor of Nainoa and all of our fallen heroes.”
Serving as the 1st Sgt. for Company F “Pathfinders,” 2nd
Battalion, 25th Aviation Regiment, 25th CAB, 1st Sgt.
Christopher McDaniel is no stranger to carrying the battle
“My platoon carried the battle flag for a two
week period in Northern Baghdad when I was with 2-14 CAV in
2008,” said McDaniel. “Being able to carry the battle flag
twice during two different deployments was a great honor. It
was a great to be a part of the history and legacy of the
Hoe Battle Flag.”
Allen Hoe also chose the 25th CAB
for other reasons. “The 25th CAB has been a favorite of mine
for a while. Col. Tate is one of my personal heroes.”
When the battle flag is not out with soldiers continuing
the legacy, it rests at a battle command training center
located on Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, at the end of Trimble
Road named after 1st Lt. Nainoa Hoe. On the display case, a
plaque is etched with “Dad, send me the Battle Flag. My men
want to carry it to honor the service and the lives of the
men you served with in Vietnam,” as stated by Nainoa Hoe. It
will reside there on display sharing its story.
flag will make one more trip to Afghanistan,” stated Allen
Hoe. “It will go with Col. Tom Mackey, who was my son's
executive officer in 2004.”
The 45 year history of
the flag has witnessed several acts of bravery and
breathtaking tragedy across the regions of conflict and war.
The 25th CAB shared a small part of that legacy and will
soon return home to give the battle flag back safely to
Allen Hoe. How much longer the legacy will continue, no one
“Today, the flag is a living being
representing the ageless ‘fighting spirit of all American
warriors' it has been witness to, and traveled to places
that no one warrior has in its lifetime,” said Allen Hoe.
More photos available below
By Army Sgt. Daniel Schroeder
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