U.S. Flag Stolen, Returned At Jersey Shore Flies At City Hall

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A select few American war heroes have earned their place outside of Philadelphia’s city hall. On Thursday morning one more joined the ranks.

If the flag representing this hero looked familiar to anyone passing by, that’s because it was stolen from a flagpole in Wildwood on – none other than – Independence Day weekend.

Family and neighbors begged for its safe return. This wasn’t a typical flag. It was military issued, given to the family of Patrick Corcoran who died while serving off the coast of Vietnam 47 years ago. He was 19 years old.

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A thief couldn’t have known this but likely found out. One week after the flag was stolen, it was returned – anonymously.

“We sincerely thank you for making a right out of a wrong,” said Patrick’s brother Tom in July from their Wildwood home.

Following its return, Philadelphia officials requested the honor of flying the flag. It was raised Thursday morning but the story does not end there.

“They went off to war and those 74 bodies are sitting at the bottom of the South China Sea 5600 miles away,” said Tom Thursday.

Patrick Corcoran and his shipmates were killed in June of 1969 when a carrier ship collided with the USS Frank Evans. The water where the men died was just outside of the designated combat zone. So while Patrick’s name was added Philadelphia war memorial he and his shipmates were left off of the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington DC.

Thanks to all of the attention the flag received, on Thursday Philadelphia City Council passed a resolution urging legislators in Washington to add the names of the 74 men to the memorial.

“It’s an honor he deserves along with those 73 other sailors,” said Tom.

The resolution pushes the cause one step closer to closure. A push that the Corcoran family believes can be traced back to the original theft.

“I would love to know who took the flag, if they would come and see us because we are so grateful, honestly,” said Corcoran’s sister, Suzanne Meissler.

The flag was taken down mid-afternoon and will be held at City Hall until the family can pick it up. The Corcorans say that it will fly once again this Memorial Day and on each Memorial Day that follows.

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