Richard Oulton, resident of Henrico’s Alor Court, has a twenty-five feet tall flagpole that is his greatest pride and joy.
“This is my new flagpole. I just put it in a few weeks ago. The time was right and here it is. It’s the way I can fly my flag. I can’t fly my flag without it,” Richard states.
Richard’s flagpole is a DIY project that started twenty years ago, one that featured headaches and heartache.
When he set up his flagpole in 1999, Wyndham’s developer maintained that it violated the rules. “I was immediately told that it caused a visual nuisance in the neighborhood,” Richard recalled.
Richard’s response was to take the issue to court. This resulted in endless court appearances, a number of threats of jail time, as well as hundreds of thousands of dollars spent.
The issues drew national headlines and set neighbor against neighbor. When he finally appealed his case to the Supreme Court, his motion was denied. Finally, Richard had to remove the flagpole.
He was devastated by the turn of events, especially since all he wanted to do was honor the fallen soldiers.
He said, “I think about it pretty much every day. I did volunteer because I thought I was doing good. I really felt like I was doing good. That is why I was motivated. I was motivated to do good.”
Richard joined the Marines in Vietnam in 1967, at the age of 21.
“The unit I was with was the 1st Battalion 9th Marine which got nicknamed in Vietnam ‘The Walking Dead’ because of the casualty rate,” he said.
He was a combat medic who saw the horrors of war up close. He helped hundreds of Marines live, but dozens of others did not make it. His unit had the worst casualty rate recorded in the history of the Marine Corps.
“So took a little PTSD home with me from Vietnam,” he stated. “Mostly it’s a profound sadness that I have. I tear up a lot.”
“I used to hide from them and with they went away. Now I welcome them because they’ll all be my brothers...I don’t mind the memories now. They’re just part of my life,” he said.
“I know this flag issue has affected him all of these years. So, I didn’t want to give up,” Ava, Richard’s wife, stated.
Richard and Ava were in disbelief when they finally got the good news.
Delegate and former Navy Seal, John McGuire, pleaded with the Wyndham Homeowners Association to grant Richard’s wishes. Fortunately, the HOA was a little more sympathetic.
“You know what we did was get together and talk about it. I would love to get (The HOA) a high five or a round of applause because it’s a great American thing they did to get this Veteran his flagpole up,” Richard stated.
He finally hoisted his 52-year-old flag on Saturday, April 27 at 11900 Alor Court in Glen Allen.