- The Washington Times - Saturday, May 28, 2016

The description for item No. 689 is simple enough: “Last American Combat Flag Used in the Vietnam War.” But the flag, its colors and gold fringe still bright, fetched $55,000 in an auction staged, ironically enough, just as President Obama was visiting Vietnam earlier this week.

Out of 1,300 items up for auction, the flag brought in the highest bid, besting silent movie star Charlie Chaplin’s signature walking cane and a 1795 nautical chart, among many documents, ephemera and relics. A North Vietnam “victory” flag went for $200.

Bill Panagopulos, president of Alexander Historical Auctions, initially expected the historic banner to go for around $10,000. Its heritage, however, held considerable appeal to an undisclosed bidder. And no wonder: the man who preserved this flag was the last ground soldier to leave Vietnam.

“The 52-inch by 34-inch two-sided flag was evacuated from DaNang on March 29, 1973 by U.S. Army Col. Chester Bailey McCoid. He had a life-long and very distinguished career with the 82nd and 101st Airborne,” the auction description noted. “Wounded before even leaving his aircraft on D-Day, he nevertheless parachuted with his men to fulfill his mission. He later served in Korea, as an exchange officer with the Navy, and on the General Staff at the Pentagon before being posted to Vietnam in 1966 where he would ultimately spend 51 months over three tours.”

On the day in question, McCoid took the flag from his field headquarters in DaNang following the final negotiating session of the war and it remained with his family until last year.

“McCoid was acknowledged in Congress in speeches entered into the record by Rep. Ike Skelton of Missouri and Rep. Sam Gejdenson of Connecticut, both of whom confirmed that McCoid was the last American ground soldier to serve in the field in Vietnam,” the Maryland-based auction house noted.

McCoid, who died at age 77 in 2000, was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal, the Silver Star, five Legions of Merit, five Bronze Stars, and two Purple Hearts. He was also twice decorated by France and eight times by the Republic of Vietnam.

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