An American Flag that was flown over Camp As Sayliyah, Qatar, has been presented to the Holy Cross/North Buena Vista Fire Department in appreciation of the organization’s support of Operation Spartan Shield (OSS).

National Guardsman Specialist E4 Sam Koehn, a 2017 graduate of Western Dubuque and son of longtime department member, Tim Koehn, made the presentation in a ceremony this summer.

“On the Fourth of July, we had a flag presented to us by Sam Koehn that flew while he was in service overseas. The flag, along with a letter of explanation, is in a shadow box that we have mounted in the Fire Station,” said Assistant Fire Chief Robbie Errthum. “Sam’s father, Tim, is a member of our department and a veteran, so it meant a lot to him. We gave Sam a proper send-off when he left, and when he came back he presented that to us.”

Sam Koehn explained the rationale behind the presentation of the flag.

“The big reason I brought it back was to say thank you to my community,” he said. “The day I left, the entire fire department and a good portion of the community was there to wish me and everyone else who was going good luck.”

Coming from a family with a long history in the military, presenting a flag flown overseas on Veteran’s Day added even more meaning to Koehn’s gesture.

“I brought back an American Flag that flew over the post I was assigned to on Nov. 11. I flew it on the 11th day at the 11th hour,” Koehn said. “I was there and it was folded in ceremony with me and a few other people from the unit.”

The Koehns’ commitment to service dates back over 100 years.

“Actually, the reason I joined the Guard was a family tradition. It’s a family legacy,” Sam Koehn said.

Tim Koehn explained a bit of that legacy.

“My great-grandpa, Robert Koehn, was in World War I, my grandpa, Harley, was in World War II, and my uncle, Stanley, was in Vietnam,” he said. “I served in Desert Storm in the Air Force and was stationed at King Khalid International Airport in Saudi Arabia. Now we had Sam going too. I’m just really proud of the man he has become.”

Sam enlisted just shy of his 17th birthday, and after one deployment, is ready to continue serving, but at this time doesn’t expect to be back overseas anytime soon.

“I did my basic training at Fort Benning, Georgia, and I’m with the 194th Field Artillery,” he said. “I was deployed to Qatar, in July 2020, and landed back stateside this April. My unit is based out of Mason City, but I wasn’t actually deployed with my unit. I ended up deploying with the 133rd Infantry.”

Holy Cross/North Buena Vista Fire Chief Dave Freiburger appreciates Sam’s service and his recognition of the folks back home.

“It was great of him to think of our local department and the local community,” Freiburger said. “We’re just glad he’s back after serving our country. He’s a good, wholesome young man.”

For Sam — a John Deere Service Technician at Bodensteiner Implement in Dyersville when he’s not fulfilling his duties with the National Guard — recognizing those who serve the community so selflessly was an easy decision.

“I just wanted to say thank you and give back a little bit,” he said.