NORTHAMPTON >> The township welcomed home one of its patriots with a special flag exchange ceremony on March 27.
U.S. Army Specialist Tyler Reichert, a resident of Northampton Township who serves with the Army’s XVIII Airborne Corps, deployed to Kuwait and then to Iraq in 2018. He returned stateside to his home base at Ft. Bragg on March 5.
While Reichert was unable to attend the ceremony, his mother, Sue, and sister, Kaitlin, were there to represent him at the Patriots Flag ceremony.
“I’m relieved,” said his mom. “He’s finally home. I can sleep a little easier. He’s definitely looking forward to being back home at the end of October.”
His sister added, “I’m just happy he was able to come home safe after being in a dangerous part of the world.”
Pete Palestina, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran, former township supervisor and the organizer of the Patriots flag program, joined Chairman Barry Moore, the board of supervisors, members of the Marine Corps League and the Northampton Township Fire Company where Tyler is a member in publicly honoring Tyler’s service and welcoming him safely home.
“Those who serve our country are at risk whether on U.S. soil or foreign soil. Their lives are put on the line each and every day as evidenced just last week when two U.S. soldiers were killed in Afghanistan,” said Palestina. “Northampton and our country are proud of what our military is doing for the freedoms we enjoy here at home.”
Moore presented Tyler’s mom with his service flag, which was displayed behind the dais in the township meeting room during his deployment. It has now been replaced by an American flag containing a streamer with his name signifying his safe return home.
Applause filled the meeting room as Moore made the presentation. “We’re happy we only have one flag left to return,” he said.
Armed service flags in the display represent patriots still on deployment in hostile areas of the world, including Iraq and Afghanistan, while American flags represent patriots who have returned home.
The Northampton Township Board of Supervisors established the Patriots Flag Program in 2003 to publicly recognize and to thank residents serving in harm's way.
Since then, the township has been honoring its active duty military serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as other active combat areas by placing a military flag in the display during their deployment. Each of the 89 American flags in the display contains a yellow streamer with the person’s name affixed to it.
Representatives, veterans advocates and staff from the offices of Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick, State Senator Robert Tomlinson and State Rep. Wendi Thomas were also on hand to present Tyler’s mom and sister with resolutions recognizing his service, an American Flag flown over the U.S. Capitol in his honor and a state flag.
Supervisor Adam Selisker, who serves as Chief of the Northampton Township Fire Department, also joined a handful of township firefighters for the welcome home.
“First responders serve their community. The military serves our country. He did both,” said Selisker. “We thank him for that and wish him well.”
In closing the ceremony, Palestina remembered the two Northampton Patriots who did not make it home safely.
“They are Army PFC Robert Dembowski Jr. and Army Master Sgt. Ken Elwell. Their American flags are in the display front and center with black streamers containing their names. We will never forget Bobby and Ken and the service they gave while paying the ultimate price, Bobby Dembowski 10 years ago on May 24, 2007 and Ken Elwell, six years ago on July 17, 2011,” he said.