Rick Baumann has owned Murrells Inlet Seafood for about 50 years. He’s had an American Flag on a pole attached to the sign for his company on U.S. Highway 17 Business for more than 10 years.
Over time, Baumann thought the Flag had become tattered. He was no longer able to climb up to untangle the flag and replace it. His bones have gotten older, Baumann said.
Anders Schmidt, a friend and member of the VFW Riders of Murrells Inlet at Post 10420 offered to help.
On Friday, May 22, about 15 or 20 people gathered at Murrells Inlet Seafood to replace the American Flag with a new one, in honor of Schmidt’s father-in-law, Corporal John “Jack” Bailey, a United States Marine who served during World War II.
Schmidt and Baumann and the VFW Riders also felt the timing would be good to have a new Flag in place for Memorial Day on Monday, May 25.
Bailey didn’t give his life as he served in the Pacific Theater in World War II. He passed away in 2018.
Baumann, an Air Force Veteran, said he’s flown the flag to honor those who served and those who gave their lives while in service, so it was fitting to have a new flag in place now.
Lt. Billy Fancher and Engineer Rollin Carver of Murrells Inlet Garden City Fire Rescue showed up as requested at 11 a.m. Friday to remove the old flag and put up a new one. Their ladder truck was just right for getting up to the flag.
But then – uh oh, the bolts holding the flagpole in place had worn out the hole too much to continue to display the flag from that pole.
What to do?
Plan B kicks in
Schmidt, Baumann and the other veterans and the firemen discussed things briefly. They decided a new pole was in order. They got two 10-foot poles, put them together, and put the pole in the ground. Horseshoe brackets were bolted around the pole to hold it in place along the edge of the existing seafood market’s sign. They also bought a pulley assembly and rope so the flag can be raised and lowered easily.
That was all done before 3:30 p.m. Friday, so the new flag is flying to honor and pay respects to the men and women who have given their lives to safeguard freedom.
Serving their country
Baumann, Schmidt and most of the folks who gathered for the flag replacement are veterans representing many branches of service.
CPL Bailey, Schmidt’s father-in-law, was part of a fire team for the initial landing at Okinawa. He ran a ground defense radar. “He had to be in the first wave to keep the troops safe,” Schmidt said. He was in the First Marine Division.
He was involved in other operations in the Pacific before Okinawa.
“He said he had never been more scared in his life. But, it was one of those things that he had signed up to do it, and it’s something he did.”
His father Neil Bailey was a Marine in the Spanish-American War in 1898. Schmidt has a ring he wears around his neck that his father-in-law gave him, that Bailey’s dad had from his Marine Corps service. “It came from his father. Passed down to him, and then he passed it on to me.”
“He made it to the grand rank of PFC,” Schmidt said. In those days 120 years ago, rank advancements didn’t come as frequently as they have in more recent decades.
“Anders was the cement on all this, and the point man,” Baumann said. “He made it happen.”
“We’ve just got to help each other,” Schmidt said.
“I’ve been wanting to take that ‘rag’ down for so long,” Baumann said of the old flag.
Schmidt said that the old flag would be retired with honor.
Once Fancher and Carver got the old flag down, they saw that it was faded significantly, but actually wasn’t as tattered as they thought it would be.
Fancher said the MIGC-FD took another flag down from Suck Bang and Blow about two weeks ago.
“This isn’t uncommon for us,” Fancher said. “We enjoy doing it.”
“Whatever the community needs, we step up. This community has been good for us over the years,” he said.
Honoring veterans and those who sacrificed their lives
Baumann offered some brief remarks once the new Flag and pole were in place.
“Throughout history – going all the way back to Biblical times – armed conflict has been a testament to our failing as a species. Throughout time there’s a history of armed aggression amongst nations, races and religions. Military history is laden with the testimony of military leaders who lament our lack of ability as a race to resolve disputes peacefully.”
“But those leaders did lead as their duty to our nation’s resolve demanded. And we followed them. And we made it home.”
“Today we honor Corporal Jack Bailey with this flag. Jack came home a hero.”
“But today we also remember. Most veterans would agree that it is difficult. It is extremely difficult – to put into words how we feel when remembering our brothers in arms who didn’t make it home. Whose lives were snuffed out, often in relative infancy when compared to our own mortality. Taken from their family and loved ones. Gone.”
“So, before I run out of words I would like to ask for a very long moment of silence, so we all can properly remember the fallen without having to speak about it.”
“Thank-yous are in order for the fire department, the VFW and my brother Anders Schmidt, who was the cement on this mission.”
“Thank you all – and to all of you for coming.”