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Defense Department tells military personnel to stop jumping from planes with U.S. flags in tow

The U.S. Department of Defense reminded service members that jumping from planes with U.S. flags in tow and flying flags horizontally are prohibited acts.

The Department of Defense reminded members of the military that although jumping out of a plane with a parachute and an American flag in tow may seem patriotic to some, it is not acceptable.

In a memo sent to the public affairs offices of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and National Guard on Feb. 10, the DOD provided clarification on a policy requiring all uniformed service members to show proper respect to the U.S. flag while at community events.

“In recent years, many sponsors of sporting events have instituted a tradition of requesting uniformed military members to unfurl and hold giant, horizontal U.S. flags during events as an expression of patriotism and love of the country,” the memo reads. 


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It continues to highlight other types of flag displays like military units marching in community parades while carrying large, horizontal U.S. flags and parachute demonstration teams using large U.S. flags attached to the jumper, resulting in the flag dragging on the ground when the jumper lands.

“While many, including military members, view these displays as inspiring and patriotic…uniformed service members may not participate directly in the unfurling, holding, and/or carrying of giant, horizontal U.S. flags that are not displayed during community outreach events,” the memo reads. “Similarly, DoD jump teams may not incorporate the U.S. flag in their public demonstrations if the flag cannot be caught reliably and handled respectfully by ground personnel during landings.”

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Of course, the exception to displaying a flag horizontally is when the U.S. flag is used to cover a casket at a funeral, though it still cannot touch the ground.

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The DOD did not immediately respond to questions concerning the memo on Monday.

Chris Meagher, who wrote the memo, wrote that the commanders and public affairs advisors would consult their legal advisors for guidance concerning the Flag Code, when it comes to the military supporting local community events involving the U.S. flag.

“I encourage public affairs offices to work with sponsors of community events to develop other ways to showcase the patriotism and capabilities of our military that comply with DoD policy,” Meagher wrote.

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