When members of the Plainfield Fire Protection District learned that an injured Plainfield veteran was receiving a customized vehicle — thanks to a fundraiser coordinated by the Associated Firefighters of Illinois and Local 2 of the Chicago Firefighters Union — they wanted to help out.
On Veterans Day, firefighters showed up at Army Spc. Frank Pierson’s home in the Creekside Crossing neighborhood to give him a lift to Soldier Field, where he and Army Ranger Sgt. Tory Honda would be presented with their new wheels. Pierson, who lost both his legs while serving in Iraq, received a customized vehicle that he can drive using just his hands.
But there was a problem.
“When we picked him up, we noticed his flag pole was broken,” Deputy Fire Chief Jon Stratton said.
Windy conditions had broken not one, but three flag poles at the home Pierson shares with his wife, Arielle.
“We said, ‘That isn’t right,’” Stratton said.
As luck would have it, Plainfield firefighter Ray Crompton happened to know someone who could help. He called upon his brother, Iron Workers Local 444 member Jeff Crompton, to help provide the manpower needed to install a sturdy aluminum flag pole to replace the broken fiberglass pole.
Crompton said the Plainfield Fire Protection District was able to get a good price on an American flag and a flag pole from Admiral Flag Poles out of Columbus, Ohio.
But they went one step further.
“Frank had mentioned he always wanted to be able to fly an Army flag,” Crompton said.
Again, a Plainfield firefighter came to the rescue. Firefighter Jason Ewing was able to get in touch with a relative who is a commander at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, Crompton said.
“They said, ‘Don’t worry about it. We’ll get the flag for you,'" Crompton said.
Just before Christmas, Plainfield firefighters loaded up the flag pole on a fire truck and headed out to the Piersons' home to get to work. With the help of the volunteer iron workers, they installed the flag pole so that Pierson could proudly fly both the U.S. and Army flags.
“We had a great time doing it and we got to see Frank smile a lot,” Crompton said.