WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — “It’s just my way of giving back.”
Tom DeMayo is a humble man. The Navy veteran has a passion for life and our nation’s heroes. It inspired him to create custom wood flags for the Kansas Honor Flight, an all-volunteer organization honoring Kansas veterans by providing them with an all-expense paid journey to Washington, D.C.
“When we came home from Vietnam, we didn’t get our welcome homes like we are giving them now, and they all deserve that,” said DeMayo.
Since June 2019, DeMayo has handcrafted 194 flags.
“They are all made out of 2x4s. They are sanded, stained, and put together, and it’s got three coats of varnish on them so they can be hung outside and weather fairly well,” DeMayo explained.
One flag takes anywhere between 12 and 15 hours to complete. After completion, DeMayo will either take donations or put the flag up for auction, with all proceeds going directly to the Kansas Honor Flight.
In total, DeMayo’s flags have raised $47,500 and have sent 52 veterans to Washington, D.C.
“It’s kind of stunning,” DeMayo said. “Honestly, it was surprising because I never kept track. I knew how many flags I had made because I sign and I number them, but I never sat down and put a pencil to the figures until one of our people on the Honor Flight did that.”
While shocked, DeMayo said he has no intention of slowing down. On the contrary, he looks forward to completing his 200th flag by the end of 2022.