Flags line veteran's street on the Fourth
Bob Palm plants 106 flags along Summerfield Lane
Nothing says the Fourth of July like American flags fluttering in the breeze, and the lucky residents of Summerfield Lane see dozens of flags lining their street every year on the holiday.
The man behind the flags is Bob Palm, who starting putting out the flags close to a decade ago.
Bob said that he and his wife Jane traveled a lot, "and being a veteran and having a strong allegiance to the American flag, when we saw a flag flying at a consulate in a foreign city, we appreciated it more," he said. "So I decided to put them out for the Fourth.
"It's a do-it-yourself project, although the neighbors all come out and help. I get hugs and kisses from the ladies, and the guys shake my hand. And I get calls saying people appreciate it."
Bob and friends planted 106 flags every few feet along both sides of the street this year, and even though the flags were only up for a couple of days, they lent a patriotic flavor to the neighborhood.
Bob was born and raised in Portland, and he remembers playing on the U.S.S. Oregon that was docked by the Hawthorne Bridge. Bob graduated from Benson High School in 1944 before joining the Navy, where he became an electrician.
Bob was stationed on the U.S.S. Saratoga, which was only the second aircraft carrier in the U.S. Navy. She was laid down Sept. 25, 1920, as a Lexington class battle cruiser No. 3 but was re-ordered as an aircraft carrier and reclassified CV-3 in July 1922; she was commissioned in November 1927.
The ship already had a long and illustrious history before World War II and carried out many assignments in the Pacific during that war. In February 1945, when Bob was aboard, six Japanese kamikaze planes scored bomb hits on the carrier within three minutes. Her flight deck forward was wrecked, her starboard side suffered two large holes, and large fires started on the hanger deck; two hours later a second attack resulted in another bomb hit, with a total of 123 of her crew were dead or missing as a result of the attacks. More than an hour after the last hit, the fires were under control, and the Saratoga was able to recover aircraft before being ordered to the West Coast for repairs.
"It was the biggest warship in the war," Bob said. "It was 935 feet long, and the keel was 888 feet. It was awesome to get on."
Remembering the kamikaze attack, Bob said, "We took seven bomb hits - they were good hits. But we got in our share and steamed away. We had a lot of near-misses and a lot of sailors killed. I was four decks down."
Bob put his Navy training to good use - after the war he was hired by the Bell Telephone Company, where he worked for 41 years.