TROY, AL (WSFA) - When it comes to putting up flag poles, Opelika resident Jamie Popwell has plenty of experience.
"Dr. [Jack] Hawkins will be number 89," said Popwell.
It doesn't take too long to see why he's so passionate about the red, white, and blue as he explained, "I served in the Marine Corps. I entered in 1982."
Popwell's plan, well, it really isn't his. It all started when he moved back to Alabama to take a job, then found himself laid off a month later.
"I'm convinced the Good Lord himself said this is what I want you to do."
So Popwell put $150 dollars and a whole lot of faith in a bank account and started Flags for Vets. He travels the country putting up flag poles for veterans, and he does it for free. It's his way of thanking them for their service.
"I don't want to see this as a job or a business. This is more of a personal thing between me and the veteran," Popwell admitted. "We develop a relationship. Sometimes we pray and sometimes we talk about their experiences. It's just a time of bonding. I don't look or even care about what time it is."
Pole No. 89 went up at the Chancellor Home on the campus of Troy University. Dr.Hawkins is a Marine who served in Vietnam.
"Every time I see this flag in the front yard of the Chancellor's Home I will have wonderful thoughts about those who are willing to say thank you," Hawkins beamed.
For Popwell, everything needs to be just right, from the rocks below, to the perfectly level flag pole, to the sight of the American flag flying high above when he's done.
"If you want something to look good you do it right and professionally. The flag has a lot of meaning. It does."
You can tell it means a lot to Popwell. From Troy he left for West Virginia to do the same thing. He just returned from Idaho where he surprised a veteran there. When he sees their face when it's done, that's all he needs.
"For someone, a complete stranger, to put a flag in your yard, not ask for a dime, shake your hand, thank you for your service, and then hop in the truck and drive off, for some of them it's a little overwhelming," the veteran stated.
It's an emotional mission, one Popwell takes pride in every time he unloads a new flag pole.
Flags for Vets is a non-profit company always looking for donations, sponsors, and veterans who may need a flag pole put up. You can find all that info on their website: http://www.flagsforvets.us/.
Popwell's long-term goal is to have a Flags for Vets in every region of the country.