Soldier’s funeral sparks debate over flag lowering

HUBBARD, Ohio (WKBN) — An airman from Hubbard was laid to rest Thursday after he died in a fall while hiking earlier this month in Italy, where he was stationed.

The service for Airman First Class Nicholas Nadeja featured full military honors by the United States Air Force Honor Guard of Vienna. The 2011 graduate of Hubbard High School was laid to rest at Resurrection Cemetery in Austintown.

But as the funeral went on, many in the community expressed outrage via social media over the city of Hubbard not lowering its flags to half staff. Iraq war veteran Lee Keys was one of them.

“More or less, it’s a disrespect toward the American people that went off and fought defending that flag that flies and we should turn around and honor the service member,” Keys said.

Hubbard Mayor John Darko said he was only following the flag code, which states you only lower the flag on orders from the president of the United States or the governor. Private businesses like the VFW can lower the flag whenever they want.

Darko called the Trumbull County Veterans Affairs Office to find out if he could lower the flag for a serviceman killed and minutes later, all city flags were ordered to fly at half staff.

Keys said the mayor did the right thing and hopes more communities lower the flag for their service members killed while on duty.

“Not just here in Hubbard, but anywhere, there are a lot of places that do not lower their flags,” Keys said.

The flag will fly at half staff through the Easter holiday weekend.

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