Divers unfurl US flag at shipwreck near Fla. Keys

Divers deploy a huge American flag Friday, July 4, on the Gen. Hoyt S. Vandenberg, a former military troop transport and missile-tracking ship scuttled more than five years ago off Key West, Fla., in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary as an artificial reef.

KEY WEST, Fla. - Divers in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary marked July 4th by unfurling a huge American flag and attaching it to a historic shipwreck.

The 30- by 40-foot flag formerly flew at the Morris 9/11 Memorial Park in Illinois. But the flag was scheduled for retirement after being badly tattered by weather.

Morris attorney Scott Belt conceived the idea of mending the flag by reducing its original 60-foot width and deploying it on the Gen. Hoyt S. Vandenberg. The former 524-foot-long Army troop transporter and Navy missile-tracking ship was scuttled in 145 feet of water about seven miles south of Key West in May 2009.

The Vandenberg once tracked space launches off Cape Canaveral, Fla., and monitored Soviet missile launches during the Cold War.