ALTOONA, IOWA — Eighty years after he raised the stars and stripes over the battlefields of Europe, an Iowa veteran of World War II stood at attention in his front yard on Friday as a group of local volunteers raised the flag on a newly installed flagpole in his front yard.
Charlie Kellogg arrived in Europe in January of 1943 at the age of 17, serving as a paratrooper. Kellogg was just a Private during the Battle of the Bulge when his squad leader was injured, he says, and he was called on to lead until the battle was over. Kellogg says he later took part in the crossing of the Rhine alongside the British 6th Airborne Division. Kellogg left the service in December 1945, seven months before VE Day. He still prides himself on serving nearly two years overseas and earning a Purple Heart by somehow avoiding injury in a warzone.
After his service, he returned home to raise a family in Des Moines. Now living with his wife in Altoona, Kelloggs’ family heard about the Veteran Flagpole Initiative in a WHO 13 report from Andy Fales on Wednesday. The group, started by Iowa veterans, seeks out deserving veterans in need of a flagpole and American flag – all made in the USA – installed at their homes. The work is all done for free by volunteers. When the group heard about Kellogg’s want for a flag just before Veterans’ Day, they moved the WWII vet to the top of the list and arrived in his driveway the next morning with shovels, concrete and a brand new flag pole.
Kellogg is mostly confined to a wheelchair, but as the flag was raised on Friday morning he stood from his chair along with it – just as he must have on so many mornings in France, England, Holland and Belgium as a teenager.
On Friday, though, Kellogg wasn’t interested in looking back. Instead he was focused on his future plans. “They got a nice flag out there for me and I’m going to enjoy it very much. I’m 98 and I’m going to be 99 in February,” Kellogg says, “After that I got a whole year until 100.”