Fallen troops honored at Prospect Hill Cemetery

Christopher Dornblaser

Yorkers gathered last weekend to pay their respects by placing flags for fallen servicemen and servicewomen when Prospect Hill Cemetery held its 12th-annual flag ceremony.

Nearly 50 volunteers placed more than 2,300 American flags in memory of the fallen troops who died in Afghanistan. More than 300 Pennsylvania state flags were placed as well, honoring those from the state who died in Afghanistan or Iraq.

The flags will remain in place until December, when they will be removed to protect them from inclement winter weather.

Patriot Guard Riders, members of  the Sheriff's Office, a group of volunteers and cemetery staff helped place the flags Saturday in honor of those who died. In less than an hour, more than 2,500 flags in all had been placed.

Honor:  Among the partcipants was Phil Palandro, director of the York County Department of Veterans Affairs. He said the flags were not to glorify war but to honor those who sacrificed their lives.

"When they give their life, it's something special," he said. "You've got to honor them."

Donna Cutchall, of West York, was there helping Gold Star families place Pennsylvania flags. The flags had tags on them with the names of troops from Pennsylvania who died in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Cutchall is a Gold Star wife, having lost her husband, Christopher Cutchall, in Iraq 13 years ago.

"To see the support that we have and everybody show up, it does my heart good," she said.

Cutchall said seeing the flags made her sad but also proud because it represented everyone who gave their lives.

"Sometimes I'm at a loss for words ... it's overwhelming," she said.

The flags: Bob Hinckley, of Loganville, was placing flags with his wife. Hinckley, formerly with the Navy, has a son in the Marines. While he said he hasn't experienced the loss that some others there may have experienced, he thought helping place the flags was important.

"We don't usually get a chance to do a lot of these things," he said. "When we can, we jump in."

Hinckley had never seen the flags up close, only seeing them while driving by.

"Out on the road, it's gonna look really cool," he said, adding that up close they look even better.

Jack Sommer, managing partner for the cemetery, was happy with how the morning turned out, commenting on how in roughly 45 minutes, nearly 3,000 flags appeared on the hillside.

"When we all come together to do something meaningful or good, it's amazing what we can accomplish," he said.

— Reach Christopher Dornblaser at