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Fallen Bremerton hero memorialized

Charles Hester’s parents, Jody Flanig, left, and Chuck Hester, right, stand with Lynette George, center, listening to a proclamation from city councilman Will Maupin Nov. 3 honoring Charles Hester’s “ultimate sacrifice.” - Phtoto by Steve DeDual
Charles Hester’s parents, Jody Flanig, left, and Chuck Hester, right, stand with Lynette George, center, listening to a proclamation from city councilman Will Maupin Nov. 3 honoring Charles Hester’s “ultimate sacrifice.”
— image credit: Phtoto by Steve DeDual

A crowd of nearly 100 people gathered on the corner of Farragut Avenue and Navy Yard Highway to view the raising of a gold star banner honoring the ultimate sacrifice of Charles Hester, a Bremerton native who lost his life fighting in Iraq.

The group, which consisted of everything from military motorcycle groups like the American Legion Riders Post 149, Warrior Brotherhood Washington Chapter A, Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association, Combat Veterans International, Patriot Guard Riders of Washington, Christian Motorcycle Association, Apple Dumpling Gang Washington, Independent Riders MA, Harley Owners Group and Noth Kitsap ABATE to city council members like Will Maupin and Adam Brockus, watched students from Bremerton High School’s JROTC color guard present the colors as the Bremerton Boys Choir sang “The National Anthem” and “Find the Cost of Freedom.”

Hester’s mother and stepfather, Jody and Ben Flanig, who live in Bremerton, were present at the event and received an honor from Maupin who read a proclamation to all who attended honoring Hester’s family for paying the ultimate price of war.

Hester was killed in Baghdad when his vehicle fell victim to a roadside bomb.

Hester’s father, Chuck Hester, who was also present with his wife Gail, offered more detail as to what happened that day in May.

The group that Hester was assigned to was moving through an area in Baghdad but did not realize they were being set up, said Hester’s father. When the ground troops began taking fire, Hester maneuvered his Stryker vehicle between his comrades and the gunfire as they are trained to do as Stryker drivers, he continued. Upon doing so, his vehicle ran over a bomb planted in the ground and his vehicle was destroyed, he explained.

The problem with that scenario, said Hester’s father, is that the Stryker vehicle is designed to withstand the explosive capability of most bombs. The bombs that pierce armor are made from shape charges that come from Iran, he added.

In an August 6, 2005 New York Times article titled “Some Bombs Used in Iraq Are Made in Iran, U.S. Says,” written by Eric Schmitt, these claims are backed up by statements like “Many of the new, more sophisticated roadside bombs used to attack American and government forces in Iraq have been designed in Iran and shipped in from there, United States military and intelligence officials said.”

“We should be fighting whoever is fighting us,” said Hester’s father. “If they are making the bombs, then they are fighting us.”

Hester’s father went on to explain that his son was a good friend to the others in his unit as well.

“If one of the guys in his unit was standing guard duty at night, (Hester) would sit with him and keep him company,” he added.

Some of the members of Hester’s unit in Fort Lewis were also present at the ceremony including Specialist Adam Edwards.

“It’s good to know that there were a lot more people, aside from myself, that knew what a great person that (Hester) was,” said Edwards. “You really can’t go into words to describe the kind of person that he was. It’s hard to explain the wonderful experience of being around him.”

The banner was hung from a light pole at the intersection by City of Bremerton Public Works traffic division employee Jeff Ingham and will remain there for all to see as they drive along the Navy Yard Highway.

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