Transfer Station’s Box for Flag Disposal Erected, Vanishes

New to the Derry Transfer Station last week was a box designed and intended solely for the proper, respectful disposal of American flags. The box is the result of a cooperative venture between the Derry Veterans of Foreign Wars and the Pinkerton Academy Air Force Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC).

But on Tuesday morning, Dec. 3, the box was nowhere to be found. Both Derry Public Works Director Mike Fowler and Transfer Station Manager Joanie Cornetta said the box was not at its usual location, although Fowler said none of the town employees had moved it.
Fowler said he will check with the VFW and Pinkerton’s ROTC to make sure no one from those groups moved it. If nothing is found, the surveillance cameras will be checked.
The project came about when Senior JROTC cadet Morgan Hooley of Derry learned that American flags were being thrown in the trash at the Transfer Station. The result was a renovated mailbox that has been repurposed to be the destination for torn, tattered and unserviceable U.S. flags.
Hooley’s father, Frank, a Derry VFW Post 1617 Men’s Auxiliary Trustee, and fellow Trustee Bob Englehardt were on a trip to Pennsylvania when they noticed a box being used for the collection of old flags. They approached Derry VFW Commander Carl Starosciak to see if the Post wanted to create a similar box in a joint venture with the JROTC. The VFW approved the project, and Hooley and Englehardt asked Morgan to find out whether JROTC would be interested in going in on the venture.
Retired Air Force Lt. Col. Howie Steadman, who directs Pinkerton’s JROTC, thought it a great idea, and appointed Morgan to set up a committee of cadets to work on the project.
Frank Hooley led the search for an old mailbox that could be used. He found one in Salem, Mass., thanks to postmaster Mark Howell. Hooley and Englehardt transported the box from Salem to a garage in Derry, where the cadets went to work on refurbishing it.
The renovation was no easy task. The rusty box had to be sanded and repainted by the cadets, done over a two-week period at the Derry Truck & Auto garage owned by Ron Hanscom, who let the cadets use a stall and his equipment.
When the box was ready, Hooley and Englehardt transported it to the Transfer Station, where it was set in place in coordination with Cornetta.
The box was at the right as people enter the station, next to the yellow Salvation Army box. Steadman said Cornetta planned to install a sign. The box was to be emptied weekly by Hooley and flags would be brought back to the VFW Post to be properly retired.