ELLSWORTH, Maine — The city has a new American flag that came to Ellsworth by way of Afghanistan.
Ellsworth police Officer Kelvin Mote recently returned from a tour of duty in Afghanistan and brought with him a flag that had flown over Camp Alamo near Kabul where he was stationed.
Mote presented the flag Monday night to City Council Chairman John Phillips and City Manager Michelle Beal.
Mote, 41, a staff sergeant with the U.S. Army Reserve in Bangor, served as part of a military transition team that left for Afghanistan late last year and returned to the U.S. last month.
“Our job was to train their NCOs, the Afghani instructors and drill sergeants how to properly train their new recruits,” he said. “We wrote the program and trained more than 15,000 people. That was a pretty busy four months.”
In February, their role changed slightly and they began to introduce the M-16 rifle to the Afghan National Army, teaching instructors and privates how to use the weapon.
Mote said he dressed in civilian clothes Monday because he wanted to be just a regular person. That, he said, is what the war in Afghanistan comes down to — “the people back here and the people over there.”
The members of his unit, he said, came from all walks of life and different areas of the country.
“It wasn’t about politics,” he said. “We don’t do politics. We were just people doing a job, and the people over here is what keeps us going.”
Mote noted that city employees had done small acts of kindness to help his family while he was away.
“It was just a small thing,” he said, “but it was big to me.”
And the employees at City Hall — where his wife, Tammy, works as the city’s finance director — also got together and sent him a care package.
“When you’re getting rocketed and shot at and everybody hates you because you’re an infidel, it really feels good to get something from home,” he said.
As he was getting ready to leave Afghanistan, he said, he wanted to do something to thank to those people, and his detachment commander suggested the flag.
The flag was flown over the base in honor of the employees of the city of Ellsworth. It is framed and has an inscription saying that the flag was flown “over the American compound by the officers and NCOs of the 95th Division, Detachment 53 during Operation Enduring Freedom on May 24, 2009.”
“The day we flew the flag, we got rocketed,” he said.
Phillips thanked Mote for the flag and welcomed him back.
“We’re all very thankful for all you did; it is appreciated,” he said. “We know it was a sacrifice for you and your family and we’re glad to see you back.”
The framed flag has been hung in the gallery area of City Hall near the tax office, where it can be seen by the public.