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Flag recovered from Challenger wreckage still flying

By: KRISTINA IODICE
January 25, 2011
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photo - Eagle Scout Zach Anderson gets the American flag ready for his Eagle Scout ceremony on Tuesday. The flag was aboard the Challenger space shuttle when it exploded and was later recovered from the water. The flag is owned by Troop 514 in Monument and can only be touched by Eagle Scouts. Zach's mom, Susan Anderson, was helping him get ready for his ceremony. Photo by JERILEE BENNETT, THE GAZETTE
Eagle Scout Zach Anderson gets the American flag ready for his Eagle Scout ceremony on Tuesday. The flag was aboard the Challenger space shuttle when it exploded and was later recovered from the water. The flag is owned by Troop 514 in Monument and can only be touched by Eagle Scouts. Zach's mom, Susan Anderson, was helping him get ready for his ceremony. Photo by JERILEE BENNETT, THE GAZETTE 

A flag that was aboard the space shuttle Challenger when it exploded 25 years ago still flies in the Pikes Peak region, most recently Tuesday night at an Eagle Scout Courts of Honor.

The flag belongs to Boy Scout Troop 514 of Monument, which loans it to troops and organizations for special events. The troop has also carried it in parades.

Zach Anderson’s Eagle Scout ceremony Tuesday featured the flag, and he said he considered it another honor. The 17-year-old earned 43 merit badges in scouting — the highest number in Troop 777. His scouting career has brought him full circle, from receiving the top award in the same room where he starting scouting.

“The space exploration badge was the first merit badge I achieved,” he said.

The flag will be displayed at a dinner Thursday in Colorado Springs commemorating the Challenger tragedy. The event is a fundraiser for the Challenger Learning Center of Colorado.

Troop 514’s flag was part of the official flight kit that survived the doomed liftoff of Challenger in January 1986.

Sending the flag on the shuttle was the idea of retired Air Force Maj. Bill Tolbert, then scoutmaster of the Monument troop. The flag was recovered from the Atlantic Ocean and presented to Troop 514 in December 1986 by an astronaut who had flown on earlier  Challenger missions.

The flag previously had flown over the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., and was given to the scouts by former Rep. Ken Kramer, R-Colo.

In 1987, Warren Berger, former chief justice of the United States and president of the Bicentennial Commission, designated the flag “the official flag of the bicentennial of the Constitution.” The Challenger flag also was displayed in Salt Lake City during the 2002 Winter Olympic games.


Contact the writer at 636-0162.

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