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“Flag man” involved in accident leaving Fulton County deputy’s funeral, Community steps up to help with repairs

LITTLE YORK, Illinois - Larry "The Flag Man" Eckhardt was on his way home from Cuba, Illinois when he was involved in an accident on July 1.

Eckhardt is known for a legacy he has been planting for the past 14 years.

With the help of upwards of 50,000 volunteers, across 14 states, he often places American Flags along funeral procession routes when an American soldier or first-responder is killed in the line of duty.

On Monday, he was driving back from Cuba, Illinois after the funeral for Fulton County Sheriff's Deputy Troy Chisum when his tire blew.

"It just popped, and once it popped it swung the back end of the van around," said Eckhardt.

He and his flags ended up in a ditch on fire. A construction worker had to put the flames out, according to Eckhardt.

"Yeah, it was a Jesus take the wheel type moment because once you get one of them things jackknifed and sliding sideways you are not going to control it," he said.

Nobody was hurt, but the van and trailer both had thousands of dollars worth of damage.

"I mean we travel with anywhere from 2600 flags up to 3600 flags and they just don`t go anywhere without the van and the trailer," said Eckhardt who had to put his mission on hold.

After years of medical issues, The Flag Man said he did not have enough money to make the repairs to his van and trailer.

"It`s just not feasible to even expect it to be there. The insurance helps but it just doesn`t do it," he said.

Eckhardt is 62 and is fighting cancer. He says he will never give up.

Larry and his caretaker set up a GoFundMe Account.

"Makes me cry. As much as I hate to admit it, it does," said Eckhardt when WQAD News 8 asked about the online support he has gotten.

The community reached Eckhardt's $3,000 goal and surpassed it in just two days.

"It re-affirms their belief that these men and woman deserve the tributes that we give them," said Eckhardt.

Now, The Flag Man says he will be able to soon continue his mission of making sure the men and women who give their lives for American's are never forgotten.

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