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Flags Thursday honor Centerville Marine

Michael Schaffer, Daily Iowegian, Centerville, Iowa –

CENTERVILLE — Between 250-300 people came to the Centerville Fire Department Thursday afternoon to take part in placing 2,200 American flags along the route the body of fallen Centerville Marine Master Sgt. Travis W. Riddick’s body will travel.

The flags were made possible by Larry Eckhardt of Little York, Ill. Eckhardt has earned the title of “The Flagman.”

Eckhardt said he has been lining streets with American flags for fallen military members for six years. In 2011, Eckhardt traveled to 20 cities and so far this year he has gone to five.

“I think you can be real proud of your town and your area,” Eckhardt said. “I can’t thank you enough to see all of these young people here.”

American flags were placed on both sides of Highway 5 approximately 18-feet apart Thursday afternoon, the route Master Sgt. Riddick’s body is expected to travel coming into Centerville Friday afternoon. From the northern edge of Centerville flags line Highway 5 to Lange Funeral Home, which is near the southern edge of town. American flags now line Wall Street to Simon Estes Auditorium at the Centerville High School, where funeral service’s for Riddick will be held Sunday at 2 p.m.

Eckhardt said the flags will remain in place until 4 p.m. Sunday, after the funeral sevices have ended.

Centerville native Master Sgt. Riddick, 40, was killed Thursday, Jan. 19 in a helicopter crash in Helmand province, Afghanistan, along with five other Marines.

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