Crane Operator Rescues Giant American Flags

Dybka said he learned to respect the flag from his time as a Boy Scout

Joshua Dybka's daily view as a crane operator in downtown San Diego is one of the best in the city. From his crane cab, he's almost seen it all.

But a few days back he looked down and "there's an American flag laying on the ground and it's huge."

"When I saw it just lying on the ground, literally the hair on the back of my neck stood up," said Dybka, of Ramona. 

According to U.S. flag code, "The flag should never touch anything beneath it, such as the ground, the floor, water, or merchandise."

Dybka felt like he had to do something so he picked up the phone and called the Salvation Army, on whose property the flag was placed. 

That's when he learned there were actually two flags. Dybka estimated one of the flags is as large as 25-feet by 60-feet. The other he said could cover the entire roof of his house. 

They had just been sold, so the store put him in touch with their new owner.

Dybka learned the flags were to be folded up and sent out of the country. So he negotiated to buy both for $50.

Dybka wasn't quite sure what to do next, so he reached out on social media for help.

"The outpouring from the community was incredible," Dybka said. "I've been contacted by Boy Scout and Cub Scout troops as well as the VFW." 

That's where these flags will ultimately get the retirement ceremony they deserve. He’s donating them to the VFW, and the scouts are going to help retire them with the vets.

Dybka was a scout growing up. His wife is an Army vet. He says he's grateful for this opportunity.

"I was always taught that gratitude is an action verb, to feel grateful about something implies that we're doing something," he said. "So I feel good to be a part of making sure that that flag is laid to rest properly and not discarded like a piece of trash."

The retirement ceremony may happen around Memorial Day.

The Salvation Army told NBC 7 on Monday that it appears the flag was offered as part of an auction.

The flag should not have been placed on the ground, a spokesperson said.

The organization now has a flag protocol in place to keep this from happening again in the future.

Contact Us