A Cedar Falls veteran and active service member from Grundy Center are pleading to have a stolen flag returned. While it might look like a regular American flag, this one has special meaning, and was a gift resulting from a unique relationship.
Howard Poitevin of Cedar Falls is proud of his air force service in the Korean War era. Decades later, he continues to support the troops, and has developed a special relationship with Grundy Center soldier Sgt. Michael Nelsestuen, who is currently serving in Afghanistan.
"I wanted him to have nice things over there. That's not a good place to be. And I've been sending shaving cream and items of that nature over there. I felt that was the least I could do as a veteran to help those," Poitevin said.
Poitevin got to know about Sgt. Nelsestuen through his wife, Amanda. He's one of her patients at a local medical clinic. Amanda's been touched by the incredible support Poitevin's shown her husband and family.
"It's just great to have the support and know there's people in the community that are really looking out for us," said Amanda Nelsestuen.
While her husband has never personally met Poitevin -- he's incredibly grateful for that support, too. As a token of his appreciation, Sgt. Nelsestuen sent him a flag, flown over his base in Afghanistan, and before that, Iraq in 2008.
"It meant a lot to me emotionally, psychologically," Poitevin said.
Poitevin was so proud of the gift, he wanted to show it off. He put the flag in a bag on his porch before hanging it up, but when he went to get it later -- the flag had been stolen.
"Just because it meant so much to him, it was a heartbreaking thing to see," said Nelsestuen.
Now Poitevin, the sergeant and his family are pleading to have it returned.
"To me, that flag was a trophy. That flag is America. That flag is everything," said Poitevin.
That deep meaning of the stolen flag can never be replaced for Poitevin, until it gets returned to its rightful place in his home.
"Now that it's gone you have to live with that. I wish it was back. I hope it will come back. No questions asked," Poitevin said.
Howard Poitevin doesn't want to know who took his flag. He's says if you know where it is, you can return it by bringing it to us here at the station, or mailing it to us at 500 E. 4th Street in Waterloo IA 50703. We'll make sure it gets back to him.
Poitevin wants to eventually pass the flag on to Sgt. Nelsestuen's son Camden, who is now just five months old.
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