NC flags to remain full-staff after deadly mortar blast

Decision sparks debate among local residents

NC flags to remain full-staff after deadly mortar blast

JACKSONVILLE, ONSLOW COUNTY - North Carolina flags will not be lowered to half-staff in memory of the seven Camp Lejeune Marines killed in the Nevada mortar explosion, according to Gov. Pat McCrory's office. But not everyone agreed with the decision.

Mary Mecozzi is the wife of a 1st Battalion Marine who witnessed the blast on March 18.

"There's nothing that explains the shock of seeing something that you know is your unit, your husband's unit. It's a horrible feeling," Mecozzi said.

She said when she heard of Gov. McCrory's decision to not fly the state's flags at half-staff, she lowered the flag in front of her home on Seminole Trail in Jacksonville. She then placed seven small flags at the bottom of the pole to represent each Marine killed.

Mecozzi called Governor McCrory's decision "ridiculous," and said all flags should be lowered for just one day.

"That flag is the symbol of them right now, and that's all we have and it's just common respect," said Mecozzi.

But James Burris, a veteran of the U.S. Air Force, said he's fine with the state's flags staying up.

"My heart goes out to the families, but no, that's not what we're about. If we lowered the flag to half-staff, the flag would never fly at full-staff again," Burris said.

Governor McCrory's office released the following statement:

"While there is no precedent for lowering the flags for tragic military accidents or combat deaths, the governor's thoughts and prayers go out to the families of the seven Camp Lejeune Marines involved in the mortar incident in Nevada, as well as the eight wounded [service members]"

The last major accident involving the state's service members happened in July, 2012, when four airmen from the North Carolina National guard crashed their C-130 while battling a wildfire in South Dakota. The flags were not lowered for that incident either.

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