FALMOUTH — An American flag that draped the coffin of a decorated World War II veteran has been stolen from American Legion Post No. 164 in a crime police called “unacceptable.”

After being used during funeral rites at Arlington National Cemetery last September, the flag was brought back to Falmouth, where the Legion paid to encase it in a specially designed oak-and-glass case.

Legion members had intended to deliver the flag to the veteran’s widow, who did not wish to be identified. But it was stolen before they could act, sometime between mid-January and Feb. 23, the date it was reported missing.

Allen Mazerolle, the post commander, said the deceased veteran was a member of Post 164 and had served in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in New Mexico throughout the war.

“I just can’t believe someone would take (the flag),” Mazerolle said. “But, we’ve torn this place apart more than once and it’s not here. Someone definitely has it. It’s in a very attractive case and they may not have known its significance.”

American Legion Post 164 in Falmouth at 65 Depot Road.

Lt. John Kilbride of the Falmouth Police Department on Monday said the Legion did its own investigation before contacting authorities, and members are sure the flag was not simply misplaced or picked up by a relative.

Mazerolle confirmed that and said the flag has “sentimental value because it’s the last item this widow has to remember her husband by.”

He said there was some initial confusion because it was believed the veteran’s family had retrieved the flag, but Mazerolle recently saw the widow and confirmed she did not have it.

Kilbride said the American Legion Post, on Depot Road, is regularly rented out and is also used by various civic organizations. The post is also staffed by members only three days a week. He said police believe the flag was simply taken at some point when the building was open to the public.

“This is unacceptable,” Falmouth police said in a Facebook post Feb. 23. “This (flag) is obviously very important to the post, and, more importantly, this hero’s widow. All we are asking is that the flag be returned to its original location, no questions asked.”

Mazerolle said the Legion is hopeful that “someone will bring it back. We would be very appreciative if whoever took (the flag) could bring it back.”

He said there have been several offers to replace the flag, but a replacement wouldn’t have the same meaning for the veteran’s family.

Kilbride said it’s “very unusual” for the legion to experience a theft or property loss like this one, and said he does not remember ever taking a complaint of this nature from the Legion before.

Anyone with information about the flag should contact the police at 781-2300, or Post 164 at 781-4709.

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