Team Red White & Blue completed its’ first Old Glory Coast-to-Coast Relay Friday – carrying the American flag from San Francisco to Walter Reed Hospital Bethesda in less than 60 days with the flag being carried every mile.
The 3,800 mile relay that began on Sept. 11, would be a logistical nightmare for most organizations, but Team RWB is not a normal organization – with exception of its Tampa chapter, the rest of the 54,000 members are spread across the country in 120 cities without a brick and mortar location. They are used to communicating digitally and meeting up when and where they are needed. This flexibility allowed 700 of its members to participate in the Olympic torch style relay without any major glitches.
Still, there were some spots in America’s heartland that didn’t have Team RWB members on hand. Volunteers flew out to those areas to carry Old Glory until they reached another chapter.
Team RWB board member Will Reynolds, a former U.S. Army infantry officer, who was wounded in Iraq carried the flag on the last leg to Walter Reed Military Hospital in Bethesda, Maryland – a hospital he knows well as he has undergone 25 surgeries there.
Mike Erwin, Team RWB founder and chairman of the board then presented the flag to Secretary of Veteran Affairs Bob McDonald.
“What you see before you embodies everything this organization is about, the eagle ethos, we are incredible proud and honored to present this flag to you as we conclude the Old Glory Coast to Coast relay,” Erwin said.
RWB Founder Mike Erwin passes Old Glory to VA Secretary Bob McDonald
After receiving the flag, Secretary Bob McDonald addressed the eagle nation, “I’m deeply honored to accept this Old Glory from Red White & Blue …you ran three marathons a day to bring this flag here. As we approach Veterans Day I want to thank all of you for your service and I’m proud to be your Secretary of Veteran Affairs.”
Secretary McDonald said he will display the flag in his office until the team wants to run it back to the West Coast.
About the Flag
“After JJ Pinter told me about the coast-to-coast relay and expressed that he wanted a single RePatriot Flag to make the journey, I felt that the relay flag needed a background different from all other RePatriot Flags,” said Sam Russo, founder and managing director of RePatriot Flag.
The flag used for the relay was flown in a Blackhawk helicopter earlier this year on a training flight from Washington, DC to West Point, N.Y and back. Along the way, the flag passed the Pentagon, Arlington National Cemetery, the National Mall, down the Hudson River to New York City where it passed ground zero, the Freedom Tower, and circled the Statue of Liberty.
“In selecting this particular training flight, the flag was exposed to many of the National Landmarks that have most significantly impacted our veteran community and families over the last decade, said Russo. “I have no doubt that the flag headed to Bob McDonald’s office is far and away the most patriotic and meaningful US Flag that one could ever possess. IT has been an honor to be part of this project.”