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Video: War veteran turned Fla. deputy rescues American flag from tornado debris

The war vet sees the flag as a symbol of hope and strength for his home city ravaged by tornadoes

By PoliceOne Staff

PENSACOLA, Fla. — A video of an Escambia County sheriff’s deputy pulling a flag from tornado debris has gone viral.

FOX 10 reported the war veteran turned deputy, Sgt. Stephen Schaff, collected a tattered American flag after a tornado struck Feb. 25 and destroyed homes. He hung it back up as a symbol of resurrection. 

"It’s strength, you get strength from a symbol that over the years in America, has given so much hope," Schaff told the news site.


RESPECT. A video of ECSO's Sgt. Schaff pulling the American flag out of Tuesday's tornado rubble, and placing it in a respected position, is getting a lot of attention on the internet. Today Sgt. Schaff (USAF SMSgt. Ret.), who did 6 tours overseas, got emotional during his interview with FOX10 News when asked why he picked up the flag. Hear his response and their story tonight at 9pm.

Posted by Escambia County Sheriff's Office on Thursday, February 25, 2016

The F3 tornado had 155 miles per hour winds and ripped through the city destroying nearly 40 homes and damaging 100 more.

Deputies arrived to help the community trapped under their homes or seeking aid. While the news was covering the event, a camera caught Schaff hanging the flag. He had no idea the moment was captured on live TV.

"It’s very satisfying to know that the small thing, rescuing something so beautiful, has meant so much to others," he said. “Stand behind the flag, represent the flag, rally around the flag, and show the strength that is behind the flag.”

Schaff served in the air force for 34 years and has been with the sheriff’s office for 20.

A Facebook post by the department garnered over 1000 reactions and shares.

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