Grateful Squadron Honors Yale Police Department With Flag Flown in Iraq

An American flag was flown over the Balad Air Base in Iraq for one day last April as a tribute to the Yale Police Department (YPD), which had sent a “care package” for the troops there.

On Veterans Day, that same flag was presented to the YPD by a member of the U.S. Air Force National Guard who recently returned from Balad.

Patrol Officer Jennifer Herten accepted the flag on behalf of the YPD from Tech Sergeant Charleen Fischer of the 727th Expeditionary Air Control Squadron, based in Orange, Connecticut.

Tech Sergeant Charleen Fischer (second from left) presents a flag flown over her squadron’s air base in Balad, Iraq, to Patrol Officer Jennifer Herten, who organized a supply drive at the Yale Police Department for the National Guard unit last spring. The two are flanked by Ronnell Higgins (left) and James Perrotti, the department’s assistant chief and chief, respectively.

Herten is a good friend of Fischer, whose unit — which included 130 men and women — was deployed last year to the U.S. base in Balad, where its mission was to control the air space over Iraq.

“Charleen contacted me and told me that during her past deployments, local businesses have donated needed items overseas,” recalls Herten. “However, this time around some of the businesses were unable to donate items like they had in the past.

“So, I decided I would hang up a couple of flyers in the police station asking my fellow co-workers if they would like to donate items to the troops. I set up a bin for about two weeks, and was amazed at the amount of donations,” says Herten, who joined the YPD three years ago and is now with its Community Impact Unit.

All told, the members of the YPD collected 60 pounds of goods — everything from body washes and soaps, to shampoos and conditioners, baby wipes, hard candies, magazines (new and old) and games — and shipped them overseas. The squadron members showed their gratitude by raising the flag with in the YPD’s honor on April 22.

When Fischer’s unit returned home, she brought along the flag so she could present it formally to the YPD. It was decided that Herten should represent the department at the ceremony in honor of her critical role in launching the drive.

“I give all the men and woman so much credit for being overseas; I felt like it was the least I could do,” says Herten. “I did it with the help of many officers.”

The flag presentation ceremony took place following the University’s Veterans Day program on Nov. 11, which several YPD officers were already slated to attend — including Herten, who was a member of the police honor guard.

The flag and a commemorative plaque will be put in a place of pride in the YPD headquarters.

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