Father of fallen soldier travels to promote honor flag

JEFFREY BLACKWELLSTAFF WRITER DEMOCRAT AND CHRONICLE.COM • JUNE 24, 2010

The father of an American soldier killed in action in 2005 while on patrol in Fallujah, Iraq, is taking his cause on the road to establish an enduring symbol of sacrifice by the nation’s fallen heroes.

George Lutz, of Virginia Beach, Va., is traveling to all 50 states this summer to promote the passage of a federal law making the Honor and Remember Flag a national symbol of military men and women who have died while serving their country.

“I think the fallen need a flag, a public symbol that reminds us of their sacrifice,” he said.

Lutz made several stops in Rochester Wednesday to promote his cause, including the Veterans Outreach Center on South Avenue.

His son, Cpl. George A. Lutz II, was killed by a sniper on Dec. 29, 2005, two weeks after his 25th birthday.

His father said in the months following his son’s death, he and his family searched the house for cards, letters, e-mails and photographs of George. Lutz said he also contacted friends and comrades and asked then to share their memories of his son.

“I wanted to collect all the memories, because I know there would be no new ones,” he said. “I wanted anything that would give me one more moment of memory.”

The inspiration for the flag is the black and white POW/MIA flags that fly below the American flag on many poles across the country. Lutz said he wanted to create a symbol for fallen soldiers as enduring.

A bill in the House of Representatives (HR 1034) would establish the flag as a national symbol. So far he has received the endorsement of 15 states and hopes to receive all 50 by Veterans Day in November.

Lutz’s non-profit organization also presents flags to the families of fallen soldiers. Wednesday, the families of Spc. Gerald Wilson, killed in Vietnam in 1968, and Sgt. Nekl Allen, killed in Afghanistan in 2009, were presented flags before the Rochester Red Wings game at Frontier Field.

Lutz’s efforts have touched the parents of fallen soldiers. Nancy Fontana of Greece took a late lunch to speak with Lutz at the Veterans Outreach Center. Her son, Spc. Anthony Cometa, was killed in Iraq on June 16, 2005.

“I just think what he is doing is continuing to remember our boys and let us never forget the loss that we endured,” Fontana said. “I will have a whole pole full of flags so people don’t forget.”

JBLACKWELL@DemocratandChronicle.com