Queens Vietnam Vets replace Glendale family’s casket flag after the original was stolen

Photos courtesy of Robert Boisselle

The Queens Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA) Chapter 32 recently honored a Glendale family with a new folded casket flag for one of their family members who served in World War II, after the original flag was stolen more than a decade ago.

The family of Gilbert “Gene” Delawder came to Chapter 32 with their upsetting story. When Delawder died in 2002, the original folded flag that was presented to the family was stolen during the funeral service. The Department of Veterans Affairs can only issue one flag to a veteran’s surviving family, so the Delawders thought they were without this precious memory forever.

When the Delawder family came to the VVA, the Chapter was honored to supply the family with a new casket flag.

On Friday, June 30, members of the Queens VVA 32, with the help of Robert Boisselle, a Life Associate Member of the organization, presented the Delawder family with the new folded flag.

“I will always be grateful for your heartfelt gesture of presenting this flag to me in honor and in memory of my father, Gilbert ‘Gene’ Delawder,” Kathryn Delawder Urbano, Gene’s daughter, told Chapter 32. “Unfortunately, the original flag presented to us at his funeral is no longer in our possession, leaving an unfillable void in our hearts. This flag, now bearing his name, not only fills that void but brings me closure and peace. It is a symbol of his service to our country and of the great, yet humble, man he was. I am eternally blessed and will cherish this moment forever.”

Delawader served in the U.S. Navy during WW II (1941-1945) and flew a Grumman F6F Hellcat.

According to his granddaughter Lisa Pizzitola , Delawder was the descendant of a great line of patriots to the United States. His father Mark Delawder served in the United States army during WWI; his grandfather, Robert C. Brown, was a Corporal in the 18th Indiana Infantry Company C in the Civil War; his great-great grandfather Lawrence Delawder served in the army as a private in the Ohio militia during the War of 1812; and Jacob Halterman, his four-times great grandfather, fought for the United States’ independence during the Revolutionary War.

The Queens VVA Chapter 32 was honored to be a part of this event and to help right a wrong that occurred over a decade ago.

More from Around New York