By Kendra Evensen
BLACKFOOT ‚ÄĒ After serving in the Army for 30 years, Fred Clemons said he finds it heartbreaking to watch people improperly dispose of a tattered American flag – a symbol of everything he fought for. That‚Äôs why he is so grateful to Premier Technology of Blackfoot, which recently designed and fabricated a ceremonial flag incinerator for the Pocatello chapter of the Non Commissioned Officers Association.
The company officially donated the incinerator to the NCOA on Tuesday during a short inaugural ceremony in Blackfoot. NCOA officials, including Clemons, retired four American flags during the small event.
‚ÄúIt‚Äôs a way to retire the colors with pride, dignity and honor,‚ÄĚ said Clemons, chapter treasurer of the NCOA, which focuses on community service.
In the past, the NCOA has had to burn the flags in barrels, and Clemons said they had to adjust the flags as they burned them to ensure nothing was missed. The process took awhile, and there was always the risk of someone being burned by the fire.
The stainless-steel incinerator can dispose of the entire flag within seconds, and it closes up so no one is exposed to the flames.
‚ÄúYou can‚Äôt put words to it,‚ÄĚ said Larry M. Hebdon, Sr., NCOA chapter chair, adding that they are grateful for everything Premier Technology has done.
Premier Technology employees spent about 120 hours designing and fabricating the incinerator, but they said the effort was worth it.
‚ÄúThere was a lot of pride involved,‚ÄĚ said Shawn Zaugg, who assisted in the fabrication. ‚ÄúIt‚Äôs giving back in a way to those who have served us and this country.‚ÄĚ
American flags were etched onto the front and back of the incinerator‚Äôs base, and the left and right sides bare the names of the five military branches under the words ‚ÄúUnited States.‚ÄĚ
Clemons said they plan to mount the flag incinerator on a trailer so they can easily transport it and make it more available throughout east Idaho.
For more information about the NCOA, visit www.ncoausa.org.