"Larry the Flagman" heads home one last time; his own flags welcoming him

Larry Eckhardt will be in hospice care at his home. The community lined flags for his procession to honor the man who started it all.

LITTLE YORK, Illinois — Hundreds of people from Iowa City to Little York gathered to honor Larry Eckhardt or “The Flagman”.

Highway 94 heading into Little York was lined with hundreds of American flags to honor the man who bleeds red, white, and blue.  Volunteers hammered the flags in place Tuesday night in Larry's honor.

Larry received a police escort from the hospital to his home in Little York where he will spend his final days.  He recently suffered a heart attack paralyzing his vocal cords.

“Everyone says Larry gave to all of us,” says Jessica Taylor, of the Kirkwood Fire Department. “It’s time for us to give back to Larry.”

Larry is the man who started lining up flags for fallen soldiers and first responders 15 years ago.  He started with 50 flags, which multiplied into a force of volunteer across 14 states.  

This time it’s Larry’s turn and he gets to take it all in.  A crowd of people overflowing his front lawn to welcome him home, flags in hand.

“Not the Larry we normally see,” says Steven Melleny, Assistant Chief of the Little York Fire Department. “Normally he’s happy, go-getting. It’s really taking a toll on Larry, but I’ve been praying for Larry.”

Larry’s caretaker says she wants to continue Larry’s mission for years to come.