Sentimental Army flag stolen from porch of 14-year Veteran

Posted at 4:46 PM, Dec 21, 2017
and last updated 2017-12-21 17:09:23-05

PALM HARBOR, Fla. — Danny Billek's front yard is typically a daily reminder of his service to our country.

"I salute my American flag and smile at my army flag and I got the salute done and there’s nothing to smile at," said Billek. 

The flag, representing his 14 years of army duty in Afghanistan and Iraq is missing. It was a gift from his mother-in-law for his sacrifice after he was medically retired injuring his knee and leg.

"It took a lot of work and I dedicated my entire life to that profession, I loved every moment of it," he said. He is now an elementary school teacher in St. Petersburg.

They took the pole the flag was hanging on as well. "It’s just gone," said Billek, after checking the entire yard.

Hurting and upset, Billek's wife took to Facebook - that's when the support started pouring in.

"Veterans here are lucky to have a community that supports us as much as Palm Harbor does," he said.

Richard Jarvis, the Administrator of the Palm Harbor Moose Lodge up the street from Billek, also showed support.

"It’s just a shame and if there was any way possible we could give them that particular flag back, we would be more than happy to do it," he said.

Neighbors are sharing in that sympathy too. 

"He’s got a lot of memories with the flag so it doesn’t make any sense. I can’t understand why anybody would take somebody’s flag or anything out of their front yard," said Patrick Cullen, who lives down the street.

Billek says taking the flag may not seem like a big deal to some, but to his family it absolutely is. Right now, they're going through a lot - his 10-year-old son is sick, in and out of doctors offices and it's just one more thing added to their difficult year. 

"Hopefully it wasn’t done out of malice because that kind of pride doesn’t come easy. Hopefully whoever took it, they understand what they did was wrong," said Billek.

"If you’ve got a conscience, bring it back and give it to the man because it means a lot to him," said Jarvis.

Billek is installing an alarm system and cameras for the future and says they will be replacing the flag - but the sentiment can't be bought.