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Flag flown in memory of local vets one too many in Tampa community, sparks controversy

By Walt Buteau,


LAKE WALES, Fla. (WFLA) – Friends of three Lake Wales veterans who recently passed away want to fly an American flag over a club in their gated community, but their HOA decided against allowing that display in a third common area.

The Saddlebag Lake Resort Horseshoe Club pits were dominated for years by veteran Bob Douskie. When his best friend, horseshoe partner and fellow veteran Hank Osborne died, Douskie was determined to fly the flag in his memory.

But Douskie died about six months later before he could get approval to erect the flag pole.

His friends Gary Shum and Jim Fuday took over the task.

“It was hard for all of us,” Shum said. “We wanted to get this done for them and other veterans who live here, and have also passed away.”

They got the pole approved, but when a club member recently raised the red, white and blue, the board told them to take it down.

“I just want to know why, and that was the only thing I asked,” Fuday said, referring to questions asked at a recent meeting. “They would not answer it.”

The Saddlebag Lake Resort board of directors said in a statement that the decision not to allow the flag is based in part on the star-spangled banners raised over two other common areas. One of them is flying in a memorial area to the left of a Canadian flag near the entrance of the property.

According to the statement, club members had agreed last year to fly only their club flag on the pole over the horseshoe pits.

“The association is very proud of all the veterans both current and departed,” the statement said. “We celebrate their memory and service by dedicating two common areas to fly the American flag proudly.”

Community members have come out in force, asking why there should be a limit on the number of American flags in the public areas.

“I don’t think there can be too many flags flying in America,” Shum said.

Shum and Fuday said they hope to convince the board to change the decision.

“If we can fly the flag, we will put it back up and leave it up because that’s what we want,” Fuday said.

When reminded that is also what his friend Douskie wanted, he choked up.

“Yes, it is,” he said, fighting back tears.

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