Honor flag raised to pay tribute to Sgt. Scott Lunger

An American flag that has crisscrossed the country in honor of fallen first responders was raised Sunday night to honor Sgt. Scott Lunger of the Hayward Police Department.

It was close to 10 pm, when the "Honor Flag" arrived at Department headquarters, where uniformed officers were waiting.

"Unfortunately here in California, we're here more than any other state," founder Chris Heisler told KTVU before the ceremony. "More police officers are killed In California than anywhere else, two dozen killed here in the last five years."

Heisler was inspired by the terror attacks of September 11, 2001 to launch his traveling tribute.  Since then, he says, the flag has traveled more than seven million miles, to honor military service members, law enforcement and fire personnel who have died in the line of duty.

"This special flag was on the final space shuttle mission, and circled the earth 215 times, one single American flag, to honor fallen astronauts," noted Heisler.

This Hayward Police force and the community were devastated by the shooting death of Sgt. Lunger during a traffic stop last month.

The paths and entryway to the department headquarters remain laden with hundreds of floral displays and tributes.

Heisler's honor flag, in most destinations, remains folded during funerals or memorials. But in Hayward, it was unfurled and flown.

"We're going to fly this flag for fifteen hours," declared Heisler,  "one hour for every year of service by Sgt. Lunger, and then I'll head out Monday afternoon to Memphis for another police officer that was just

shot and killed there." 

About 60 officers and citizens watched Sunday’s ceremony somberly.

"The funeral is over, and it's hard to go on each day, and I want to keep Scott close to my heart," police dispatcher Janice Lampkin told KTVU, "and I hadn't heard of this flag before, but I thought how exciting that something of this magnitude is coming here for him, he meant a lot to me."

Heisler notes his isn't the iconic flag hoisted by first responders and photographed atop the rubble of the World Trade Center.  He says his flag was a gift in his home state of Texas, and he drove it to ground zero and flew it during the recovery. 

"There were many flags that flew at 9/11," clarified Heisler, "and this flag is a national treasure to millions of Americans, and for first responders, its part of the fabric of American history."

The flag will be in Hayward until 1pm Monday afternoon.