Stolen flag of fallen sailor returned

Patrick M. Corcoran

Update: On Wednesday, the Press of Atlantic City reported that the missing flag had been returned to the North Wildwood home where the July 4 theft had occurred. The newspaper reported that Patrick Corcoran’s brother, Tom Corcoran, was at his home in Bucks County when he received a telephone call from his neighbor at the shore, Tom Schaefer, alerting him that a woman had returned the missing flag, which was inside a box. Schaefer determined that it indeed was Corcoran’s flag based on the markings on the brass rings used to hang the flag from a pole. North Wildwood police have made no arrests in the case.

The original printed version of this article appears below:

An American flag that was draped over the casket of a Father Judge High School graduate who lost his life in the Vietnam War has been stolen from outside his relatives’ shore home.

Thieves swiped the 10-foot-wide Old Glory on Independence Day from a pole in front of a residence at 11th and New Jersey avenues in North Wildwood. The flag had been raised for the nation’s birthday to honor Seaman Patrick M. Corcoran, who died in the South China Sea on June 3, 1969, after an Australian aircraft carrier collided with his ship, the Navy destroyer USS Frank E. Evans. Corcoran was one of 74 men who perished in the disaster.

The flag was draped over Corcoran’s casket during a military-style funeral in Philadelphia later that June, then presented to his family, who have adopted a tradition of flying it on special occasions, such as Memorial Day. Flying the flag occasionally also helps prevent the cloth from becoming dry and brittle. The Corcorans and a neighbor reportedly raised the flag on July 3. It was gone when they awoke the following morning.

North Wildwood police launched an investigation of the theft. Capt. John Stevenson said on Monday that the department still seeks tips about the flag’s whereabouts. Call 609–522–2411 or email to to report information. The North Wildwood Recreation and Tourism Department posted an appeal for information on its Facebook page on July 5. The message has attracted about 600 comments.

“Needless to say, the Corcoran family is very distraught at the loss of this very meaningful flag,” the post stated. “The family is simply asking for the flag to be returned to them, NO QUESTIONS ASKED!” ••