Tacoma, WA – An Iraq war veteran is devastated that someone has stolen a flag he brought back from the war that literally has his friend’s blood on it.
"It was an act of, I think pure evil. It really was,” Nolan Gomez told KOMO.
Gomez’s flag carries the blood, sweat, and tears of a friend of his who was wounded when they were serving in the military together from 2006 to 2009.
He told KOMO that he’d tried to use the flag as a tourniquet when his friend was injured.
The friend has since died, and Gomez got a tattoo on his neck in his memory.
"It brings tears to my eyes to see it, but it was a good feeling like that flag was part of him, he is on that flag,” he said.
Gomez told KOMO that he has flown that flag on a yellow pole on the back of his pickup truck since he returned from the Middle East.
In June, the flag was stolen from his truck while it was parked where he was working in a South Tacoma neighborhood.
“It was mine, I earned it, it was my title, I woke up and I was happy with that flag,” Gomez said. “I think they’re a coward honestly. They’re a coward. Anybody that sees that flag, they know there is some kind of history behind it or what we do as Americans to fight for the flag.”
The missing American flag is about three feet wide and has bloodstains on the bottom four stripes, he told KOMO.
The community was outraged on Gomez’s behalf, and helped him post a sign asking whomever took the flag to return it. The sign explained that the flag had special sentimental value.
"I just can't imagine someone doing that to someone who has served for our freedom,” neighbor Kim Phillips told KOMO. “I just couldn’t stop thinking about it, that’s a very heartfelt thing and he needs that flag.”
Some neighborhood kids brought a new flag to Gomez as a replacement, and he said he appreciated their efforts. However, he really wants the flag with his friend’s blood on it back.
"Not understanding that the man behind that flag really cherished that flag. It meant a lot to him,” Gomez said.