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Wahpeton hockey team gets flag from Kuwait

Young patrons of the Stern Sports Arena in Wahpeton, N.D., have long wanted a bigger national flag, one that doesn't get lost among banners and advertisements.

They didn't expect they'd get one all the way from Kuwait.

The new flag arrived recently courtesy of the South Dakota National Guard, where two players on the BW (Breckenridge, Minn.-Wahpeton) Blades girls' hockey team have special clout. It will be dedicated tonight before the Blades boys' varsity game with West Fargo.

"It's a great opportunity to get a flag in there that has a lot of meaning to it," said Tana Erbes, Blades board member. "It's got such a great story behind it."

The plan to fly the new flag from Kuwait was hatched by Kim and David Chase, whose daughters Sydney and Sara play on the team. David, a lieutenant colonel, has served with the National Guard for almost three decades. Since June, he's been stationed at the Kuwait Navy Base and Camp Patriot.

The family stays in touch over a Web cam, but last year, three tangible reminders of dad's affection arrived in the mail: flags David flew at the base in his wife and daughters' honor. That was how Kim decided to ask David for a flag for the arena.

"My husband agreed it was a nice idea," says Kim, who flies her flag in the front yard of the family's Wahpeton home.

David flew the flag for 24 hours on New Year's Day in honor of the BW Blades.

The Chases and the Color Guard will be on hand for tonight's dedication immediately before the 7:30 varsity game.

Sydney Chase, a ninth-grader and a six-year veteran of the team, says the 5-by-9-foot flag is a great improvement over the old one: "I am going to be so proud playing there now."