Larry “The Flagman” Eckhardt, who for the past 16 years has planted close to 500,000 American flags for fallen soldiers and emergency personnel, has died after a his battle with thyroid cancer, Pekin Firefighters Local 524 announced on their Facebook page Tuesday.
“Pekin Firefighters mourns the loss of Larry ‘The Flagman’ Eckhardt,” the post read. “We had the honor to work with him many times. A truly great person. He will be sorely missed. Rest in Peace our friend.”
Last month, local fire departments lined the roads in Little York and the surrounding area with more than 1,000 flags as Eckhardt returned home from a hospital in Iowa City with a police escort.
Eckhardt’s long-time friend Leroy Valentin told Local 4 News at the time that “a number of years ago he attended a funeral for a local killed in action veteran and he was pretty disappointed there wasn’t much of red, white and blue display.”