Local veteran honors military with long-running personal tribute

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SAN DIEGO - On many windy days in San Diego, you'll find Frank Leech on San Diego's harbor, proudly waving his American Flag.

"This is a very old flag. I've had this thing, 12, 15 years," Leech said. "That's why I'm here: to show the flag, support them."

Leech goes to the harbor frequently when Navy ships leave on or return from deployment, something he's been doing for more than a decade.

"My first time was when a fleet went out on the 2003 invasion, and I've been doing it since."

He's used the same American flag every time, proudly waving it in the San Diego breeze.

"It's a bit worn. It does the trick."

Frank is never alone when he pays tribute to Navy sailors heading out on deployment, often joined by members of his church and others seeing their loved ones off. Further, Frank has a deeper insight than most into the sacrifices these brave men and women make.

"My brother and I both served in Vietnam, thank the Lord we both came back." When he did come back, Frank received a very different homecoming than the one he hopes to give servicemen and women returning home from duty.

"There was no pomp and ceremony; more often there would be protesters," Leech said. "It’s quite a sacrifice, I just want them to know that somebody cares. I care."

There's no better way to show it than by raising the star-spangled banner, symbolizing that very sacrifice.

"It's pretty small. It still serves its purpose."

Leech's purpose now is to fly a beacon of hope, honoring those who risk all, and those who gave all.

"I just want to thank those veterans who are still alive," Leech said through tears. "Let them know, the world thanks them."