Public Information Office
After 19 years as a Sheriff’s Deputy, you would think that he had seen it all. But this was a first, thought Deputy Mike Telegdy, as he was dispatched to a report of someone stealing an American flag belonging to the widow of a war veteran. With her flag pole stripped bare, 78-year-old Mildred Murray went to the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office’s district headquarters in DeBary on Jan. 2 to report the theft. “I was taken aback,” said Telegdy.
Mrs. Murray proceeded to tell the deputy how her now deceased husband, a World War II SeaBee, had started the tradition of flying the flag in their front yard at 219 Valencia Road more than a decade ago to honor military veterans -- like many in her own family -- who had served their country in time of war. After dusting for fingerprints and canvassing the neighborhood for clues, Deputy Telegdy couldn’t find any leads. But still this story stuck in the craw of this first generation Hungarian-American. When he related the story to his fellow deputies -- Amy Smith, a member of the Sheriff’s Office
Honor Guard; Mike Morgan, a Marine Corp veteran; and Nick Yackel, whose father served in the Air Force -- they all agreed it was their patriotic duty to replace the stolen Stars & Stripes. That afternoon, the four deputies pooled their money, bought Mrs. Murray a new American flag and then brought it to her home to surprise her. And surprised she was. She was also extremely grateful that the deputies would take the time to replace her flag and moved by their kindness and patriotism.
Not content to just hand the flag to Mrs. Murray, the deputies asked for her permission to present the colors and hoist the flag in a little ceremony. And she said she felt honored. In order to capture the moment, the deputies lent Mrs. Murray a digital camera and even went to the store to make prints as a memento for her collection. “It would have been an injustice not to have done something -- just to have left her there with a bare flag pole,” said Deputy Telegdy. And his fellow deputies agreed. Meanwhile, an extremely appreciative Mrs. Murray wrote a note of thanks to Sheriff Ben Johnson. “You’ll never know (how) grateful I am for my new flag,” wrote Mrs. Murray. “You have the best people working for you....I’m so proud of these guys and gals.”
And so is Sheriff Johnson, who will be presenting the four deputies with a unit commendation during a ceremony Tuesday morning at the Deputy Stephen Saboda Training Center in Daytona Beach. Mrs. Murray plans to attend the ceremony. “The exceptional kindness and compassion exhibited by Deputy Michael Morgan, Deputy Amy Smith, Deputy Michael Telegdy and Deputy Nicholas Yackel embody the philosophy of going above and beyond the call of duty in service to the community,” Sheriff Johnson wrote in the citation that will accompany Tuesday’s commendation. “Their actions helped to lift the spirits of a crime victim and bring honor to themselves and the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office.”
Administrative offices: West Volusia 386-736-5961 Daytona Beach 386-254-4689 New Smyrna Beach 386-423-3352
Non-emergency dispatch numbers: DeLand 386-943-8276 Daytona Beach 386-239-8276 New Smyrna Beach 386-409-8276 Osteen 407-323-0151