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Marine Dedicates U.S. Flag to Son

Written By Marine Corps Sgt. Michael Cifuentes
1st Marine Division Public Affairs

CAMP LEATHERNECK, Afghanistan – Marine Corps 1st Lt. Phillip M. Downey has a unique gift to present when his son is born: an American flag that flew 50 feet above the Task Force Leatherneck compound, April 28.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
Marine Corps 1st Lt. Phillip M. Downey salutes as the American flag is lowered during sunset at Camp Leatherneck, Afghanistan, April 28, 2012. Downey is sending the flag home for his soon-to-be-born son. U.S. Marine Corps photo

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

Downey is serving a year-long deployment in Helmand province with the 1st Marine Division. He said he doesn’t think he’ll be able to make it home in time to see the birth of his son, so he dedicated a flag to him instead.

“One day, I want him to understand that there was a reason why I wasn’t there,” said Downey, a 25-year-old St. Louis native.

Downey works in the combat operations center at the Task Force Leatherneck compound, the ground combat element command and control cell for Marine Corps operations here.

He deployed to Afghanistan in February, a few weeks after his girlfriend, Megan Black, announced she was pregnant. Although he was excited by the news, Downey said, the days leading up to the deployment “were interesting to say the least.” Black moved in with her parents, who live near Downey’s home station at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif.

Downey’s job involves tracking and coordinating mission orders from the command element of the Marine air-ground task force in Afghanistan. One of the biggest problems he faces in keeping in touch with Black is the time difference with California. On a typical day, when Downey’s shift ends at 9 p.m., it’s 9:30 a.m. at home. “She only answers my emails late at night or early in the morning,” he said.

Downey’s son is due in September, the seven-month mark of his scheduled one-year Afghanistan deployment.

Downey said the flag he’s sending to his son will become a family heirloom.

“A lot of Marines dedicate their flags to their parents or family members who were former Marines,” said Staff Sgt. Anthony B. Triplett, the administration chief for the commanding staff of Task Force Leatherneck and manager of the flag program. “To receive a flag that has flown over a Marine base in Afghanistan for a day means a lot to those people.”

Downey’s lineage includes two grandfathers who were soldiers during World War II, and two uncles who were soldiers in Vietnam. He said he hopes his wartime souvenir to his son will be passed on for generations.

Downey plans to frame the folded flag in a shadow box and hang it in his son’s room after he is born.

He said an American flag that was flown from sunup to sundown in Afghanistan should be a priceless gift at Black’s upcoming baby shower.

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About Posted by Susan Bainbridge

At age 6, Susan was destined to be a journalist and photographer. In 1980, Susan founded Bainbridge News and The Bainbridge Chronicle Newspaper. Bainbridge News specializes in Military and National Politics, including Military Funerals and Burials and Political Funerals and Burials. Susan has covered the White House, the Pentagon and Capitol Hill. She has covered every president from Ronald Reagan to Barack Obama. Recognized for her versatility, Susan has also covered finance, crime, civil rights events, marches, sports, musical events and more. In 1990, she established Bainbridge Photography, an On-Location photography company. In addition to military and political events, including Military and Political funerals and burials, Bainbridge Photography expanded into covering ALL funerals and burials, receptions, weddings, real estate, inventory, insurance, portrait, head shot, pets, fire and Hazmat. Miss Bainbridge believes in going the extra mile. "My Clients always come first." In 1980, Susan began her career in Washington, D.C., working for WMZQ Radio as a reporter and guest hostess from 1980 to 1985. Intrigued by radio, Susan wanted to write, freelancing for radio, television and print newspapers, including AP, The Washington Post, The Washington Times, The Northern Virginia Sun, The Press-Republicanand The Bainbridge Chronicle (established by Susan Bainbridge). In 1986, Susan worked at WDCA-TV Channel 20 as a guest hostess for "Eye On Washington." From 1990 to 1994, Susan reported and anchored for "The Arlington Weekly News." Additionally, she produced a segment for the G. Gordon Liddy Radio Show. A prolific writer, while in high school in 1977, Bainbridge wrote an episode for NBC's "Little House on The Prairie" entitled "Laura's Best Friend." Though the show's producers did not use the script then, NBC producers encouraged Susan to pursue a writing and journalism career. Susan is a member of the National Press Club, the National Press Photographer's Association and the Society of Professional Journalists. Susan Bainbridge's recognitions include from former Presidents Ronald Reagan, George Herbert Walker Bush and Bill Clinton, former First Lady Nancy Reagan, former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, the late actor Lorne Greene, among many others. BAINBRIDGE NEWS was founded in 1980 by Susan Bainbridge (a sixth generation writer), a third generation journalist, a first generation photographer and a fourth generation entrepreneur. She is the first generation to establish a news business. Bainbridge News is dedicated in honor of Miss Bainbridge's late grandfather and idol, Mark S. Watson (The Baltimore Sun editor and war correspondent from 1920 to his death in 1966).

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