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Freeland man on a mission to present the colors

Jay Hall stands on his deck overlooking Holmes Harbor. After a 22-year career in the Air Force, Hale and his wife, Bernie, retired to Whidbey Island. Flying the American flag in front of their home has always been a priority for the Hales. - Gayle Saran
Jay Hall stands on his deck overlooking Holmes Harbor. After a 22-year career in the Air Force, Hale and his wife, Bernie, retired to Whidbey Island. Flying the American flag in front of their home has always been a priority for the Hales.
— image credit: Gayle Saran

Jay Hale has always loved the American Flag. The Freeland resident can’t remember a time when flying the flag wasn’t important.

Even as a child before becoming a pilot in Air Force, the flag had significance for him.

His love of the flag and the patriotism it evokes are memories from his childhood during World War II. He recalls a country at war, and brave men and women serving and losing their lives during battle.

He has made flying the flag a mission wherever he and his wife, Bernie, have lived.

“It grew to be symbol of the things our country stood for, and especially service given by many generations of military personnel and the resulting sacrifices they made,” Jay Hale said.

“Such as my brother-in-law, who was wounded on an island in the Pacific during World War II, and the many more uncounted deaths of young men and women,” Hale said.

Hale stands on his deck and looks out at his 30-foot-tall flag pole in front of his home overlooking Holmes Harbor.

“The flag, and the flying of the flag, became a family tradition for us during my Air Force career and we carried it over into retirement,” he said.

Hale joined the Air Force and became a pilot, and his military career spanned 22 years. He traveled extensively during his career.

As a pilot he was the first American into Saudi Arabia after the Six-Day War. The armed conflict in June, 1967 engulfed Israel and the Arab states of Egypt, Jordan and Syria.

Hale was deputy director of reconnaissance for the Air Force in the Pentagon when he retired.

Hale remembered the couple’s first condominium in Seattle after he left the service.

“The association didn’t allow us to fly individual flags, so I convinced them to put up a pole in front of the building.

I got the American flag from the Elks in Seattle.”

“It was huge. They were getting a new one,” he said.

Again when his mother-in-law moved into an assisted living facility, he discovered there wasn’t an Old Glory on the premises.

Hale changed that and helped to have a flag and flag pole installed at the building.

“One of the residents took on the duty of raising and lowering the flag every day,” Hale said.

The Hales moved to Whidbey Island in 1989, settling on the property that they had owned since 1958.

“When we came to Freeland to live full time, of course we wanted a place to fly the flag, especially since there were so few flying here,” he said. “So we had our pole made and the flag has been flying here ever since.”

“Having our own flagpole also gives us a chance to pay tribute on special occasions, such as Memorial Day, to those who served by putting up the big flag and flying it at half mast when appropriate,” he explained.

Since the Hales moved to the island there are more flags flying in front of homes and businesses, but Hale said there is always room for more.

Hale said he appreciates local businesses like Whidbey Telecom and others for flying their big and beautiful flags. But he said it’s sad there are still so few flying in Freeland.

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