Richard Oulton joined the Marines in 1967. He was 21 years old at the time, and he served as a combat medic in Vietnam. His Battalion was nicknamed “The Walking Dead” because of how many people in it didn’t make it out alive. He helped many make it home safe, but he carries the scars of the lives that were lost.
Richard wanted to do something to honor those who died on the battlefield, and in 1999, he put a huge twenty-five-foot flagpole in his front yard. He lives in Henrico’s Alor Court, and people were not pleased with how the pole looked. He was told that it was a “visual nuisance,” but he wasn’t ready to give up that easily.
Richard decided that what he needed to do was to take the issue to court. He has spent many years fighting for his tall flagpole and its place in his yard, and he has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on this battle. When he saw the opportunity to take it to the Supreme Court, he tried to do that.
His motion was denied, and he was left without any hope for the flagpole. He knew that he had to remove it, and he did that despite all the years he had fought for it. He has PTSD and tears up often from the grief he feels inside over the soldiers lost on the battlefield in Vietnam, and he had wanted to honor them with the flagpole. He had wanted to do good with his service, and that is why he joined the Marines, and he wanted to do something good with the flagpole, as well. It seemed like there was nothing else he could do to have any hope of putting it back up, though, until his wife pushed him not to give up.
Ava Oulton knew how much the flag and pole meant to her husband and how he wanted to use the flag to honor those who had lost their lives in Vietnam, and she made sure that he didn’t give up on it. Then, they got the news that they could put the pole back in the ground.
A former Navy Seal had gone to their homeowners’ association to ask that they could put the flag up. John McQuire is the name of the man who did this, and he got the HOA to see the importance of the flag and have some sympathy for the family. Richard believes that the homeowners association did the right, American thing and that the flag will do a good job of honoring those whose lives were lost in Vietnam.
The flag is over fifty years old and is a bit worn and stained, but it is a reminder for all those in Glen Allen of the lives that were lost in Vietnam. Richard fought long and hard to get permission for the flag in his front yard, and he can finally have it up and know that he is doing his part to honor his fellow Marines.