ARCANUM — While mourners were attending a memorial service for 20-year-old Clayton Michael Heins late Sunday afternoon at Moraine Airpark in Moraine, Mark McFadden was memorializing the young man with an American flag at half-mast at his residence on down the road.
McFadden wasn’t able to attend the gathering, but did, with the help of friends, lowered the flag on its 137-foot-high pole at sunrise on Sunday.
Clayton died as the result of an airplane accident Sept. 14, near his home on Dull Road. He was pilot of the craft, which carried another young passenger, 19-year-old Jacob Turner of Greenville, who died as well.
“They were my neighbors,” said McFadden. “He [Clayton] was a buddy of mine…a good kid. I knew his dad [Pete Heins] pretty well.”
McFadden said he and several friends put up the flag pole in 2002.
“It’s 1500 square feet, 30×50,” McFadden said. “We used a crane and put up the pole for the pole and. We held a ceremony and, in fact, Clayton’s dad, who flies a Waco plane, flew circles around the flag pole with the smoke on [during the ceremony].”
The idea for the flag pole came a couple of months after 9-11 [Sept. 11, 2001].
“We knew people in America would go back to the safe little lives and forget for awhile,” he said. “This is more of an everlasting symbol.”
McFadden thought it was appropriate to show tribute to Clayton.
“He was a wonderful young man,” McFadden said. “The family has been through much tragedy. What more can be taken away from that man [Pete Heins]?”
Yes, he lowered the flag at sunrise and it remained that way until sunset when it would go back to the top of the pole.
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