Reward offered for return of NJ family's stolen American flag

NORTH WILDWOOD, N.J. (WPVI) -- A reward is now being offered for the safe return of a flag stolen from a North Wildwood home on July 4th.

On Friday, Vietnam veteran and radio host Joe Griffies announced a reward for the return of the flag, although he's publicly withholding the amount.

In addition, police say if the flag is returned before their investigation ends no charges will be pressed.

The Corcoran family's American flag was laid across the casket of their brother, Patrick, who was killed in Vietnam back in 1969.

It was stolen from the family's home on Independence Day, leaving the family heartbroken all over again.

Tom Corcoran lost his brother in the Vietnam War when the ship he was on collided with an aircraft carrier.

"The front of the boat was struck by the Australian aircraft carrier and the front portion of the ship sunk in 2 minutes and 74 sailors lost their lives," Tom Corcoran said.

For the past 10 years, the family has been flying the flag that was draped over Patrick's casket in his memory, but on Monday, things changed, someone stole the flag.

"The whole symbol behind that flag is that is really the last article we have," Tom Corcoran said.

Police say the theft happened in the early morning hours. Someone took off with the flag from their neighbor's yard.

The neighbor, Tom Schaffer, is a military veteran and his wife's brother served in World War II.

They fly the flag it in their yard, because the Corcoran's don't have a pole big enough to support it.

Tom Schaffer was crushed when he discovered the 10 foot flag was missing and he had to break the news.

"I looked up and said, 'Jesus Christmas!' The rope was hanging. I just walked to the end and looked up and said, 'No, this can't be true.' But it was," Schaffer said.

So far police don't have any leads, but say they are searching nearby surveillance cameras and also report two other smaller flags in the neighborhood were stolen the same day.

The Corcorans say this loss hurts, but it will never erase the memory of their hero, Patrick, who died serving our country.

"It is a piece of our family, there is going to be another piece missing. We didn't get the body back and now we have the only symbolism behind that is gone also," Tom Corcoran said.

To the person that took the flag, it was probably just that, a flag but for this family it means much more; they say it is like losing a family member.

What they are asking is quite simple, if you took it return it, no questions asked.
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