After two decades, a Vietnam veteran will finally be able to fly the American flag on a 25-foot flagpole over his Virginia home.
Richard Oulton first put up the flagpole in front of his Henrico house in 1999, but the neighborhood developer ordered him to take it down. The homeowners association’s rules only allowed flags to be flown on a 6-foot pole attached to the house.
He fought the HOA in court, but lost when the US Supreme Court refused to hear the case.
“I’m standing in my front yard being told my American flag is a visual nuisance and I can’t fly it in support of the troops in Iraq. I think it’s horrible but I have to comply,” he said in 2003 interview with CNN affiliate WRIC when he had to take the flagpole down.
At the time, the HOA was controlled by the developer, but it recently had a change of management and is now run by the homeowners.
Oulton decided to try again and asked Virginia Delegate John McGuire, a former Navy SEAL, to help.
“That American flag is a thing that should bring all of us together,” McGuire told CNN.
The process took almost a year and required two appeals, but the Wyndham Foundation Homeowners’ Association ultimately agreed to approve the flagpole and its placement.
“The Wyndham Foundation has always permitted Mr. Oulton to fly the American flag. The only special approval needed was for the size and location of the flagpole in question,” the association’s president said in a statement.
“Mr. Oulton made the original request 18 years ago, which was managed by the developer-controlled board. The request was then denied, and no further request was submitted by Mr. Oulton until late Fall 2018. The Wyndham Foundation Homeowner’s Association has since been working diligently with Mr. Oulton to come to a resolution that is in the best interest of the resident and the community. We are happy that we were able to help Mr. Oulton get his flagpole.”
The HOA stressed that the American flag was never the issue and that the concern was with the size and placement of the pole.
“When I went to Richard [Oulton] to tell him that he would get his flagpole, he had tears in his eyes,” McGuire said.
Oulton served with the 1st Battalion, 9th Marines during the Vietnam War. The battalion earned the nickname “The Walking Dead Marines” because of its high casualty count.
He plans to raise the flag that flew at his bunker in Vietnam to honor the troops who died, fighting alongside him.
“For the 749 Marines that I served with – for their memory,” he told WRIC. “It’s one memory I’ve kept. It’s very important to me. It’s kind of a tattered now, but lot of memories.”
The new flagpole is up at Oulton’s home and he his planning to raise the flag for the first time at a ceremony on April 27.
His wife, Ava, told CNN that they are trying to limit the event to veterans, but they are still expecting hundreds of people.
“There’s going to be a lot of veterans there, a great celebration,” she said.