Flags a fitting tribute for Means

Larry Eckhardt, travels throughout the Midwest to honor fallen military members and help give them a proper sendoff. Eckhardt is known as “Larry the Flag Guy,” and when a soldier is killed in combat from Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, Indiana Wisconsin, Minnesota or Tennessee, he contacts the hometown and offers his services. On Tuesday, he brought 2,200 American Flags and led a crew of more than 100 volunteers in lining the street from the area of Bruzek Funeral Home to the eastern edge of town and a few other places along the route with flags to honor fallen Marine Lance Corporal Dale Means. Eckhardt has been doing this for seven years. “It started when there was a soldier’s funeral in my hometown,” he said. “There were probably 2,000 people lining the street waiting for him to come home, but only about 100 flags. That was wrong.” Eckhardt obtained 50 flags, then added 50 more, and more and more, and he now has more than, 2,200. This is the 97th funeral he has attended. “That’s 100 too many,” he said. He said he started out doing funeralsclose to home, but over the years he has expanded his area. This is his first Minnesota funeral. He makes contacts with community leaders, who are asked to put out the word that volunteers are needed. In this case, the word got out late Monday afternoon that 50 volunteers would be needed at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday at the New Prague Golf club. Well over 100 people showed up. After hearing instructions, they broke off into groups. Flags were placed 12 feet apart starting at Lincoln Avenue, by the Memorial Library, eastward to the city limits. They also were in front of New Prague Auto Group and several other properties along Highway 13, and were lining Old Hwy 13 Blvd. leading up to St. Patrick Church, where Mean’s funeral was held Wednesday morning. Eckhardt volunteers were to collect the flags and load them in his trailer Wednesday afternoon. Eckhardt lives in Little York, IL, which is 50 miles southwest of Quad Cities.

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