By John Lynds
Like clockwork each day, East Boston resident and World War II veteran, Rocco Telese hangs two flags off his front porch on the second floor of his Faywood Street apartment. One flag is the American Flag and the other is the United States POW Flag.
For years the 92-year-old Telese has kept up this practice as a patriotic veteran that was wounded twice in Italy during the Battles of Anzio and Florence as a U.S. Army infantry soldier and scout.
However, something strange happened Monday night.
“I went out to bring the flags back in and one, the POW Flag, was missing,” said Telese. “I thought maybe the wind blew it off the porch.”
So Telese walked down ten houses to the left and ten houses to the left but could not find the flag.
Telese left a message for his downstairs neighbor who keeps a security camera rolling on the property during the day.
“Sure enough he caught someone climbing up the porch and yanking the flag off the railing,” said Telese. “I don’t know how this kid did this, it has to be 20 feet up?”
Telese said he wasn’t interested in pressing charges but would like the flag back, a flag that was a gift for his service during WWII and his support of VFW and POW causes.
However, Telese got a special gift early Tuesday morning from none other than the State Secretary of Veterans Services Francisco Urena, a fellow East Bostonian.
“So Tuesday morning, tucked in my mailbox was another POW Flag from Secretary Urena,” said Telese.
Urena, an Iraq War U.S. Marine veteran and Purple Heart recipient who lives in Eastie, said he saw the story of Telese’s flag being stolen on the evening news Monday and thought it was the right thing to do was to loan Telese his own personal flag until the stolen flag is returned.
“I saw the story on the news and I had a POW Flag on hand so I dropped by his home Tuesday and dropped it off for him,” said Urena. “I’m hopeful that Mr. Telese’s flag is returned. I was doing this as an East Boston resident to right a wrong. That Flag that was stolen represents so much more than Mr. Telese and I. It represents the 92,000 men and women who left home never to return and I was really touched by his patriotism at 92-years-old.”