New nonprofit provides flags and flagpoles for disabled veterans

Posted at 4:16 PM, Aug 29, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-30 18:10:42-04

For a while now, Vietnam War Veteran Cliff Leach has wanted to do something special for disabled veterans.  A few months ago he started the nonprofit 13stripes50stars.

Thanks to the nonprofit, Sergeant Ben Marksmeier now has an American flag flying in his Fremont, Nebraska, front yard.  

At 17-years-old Marksmeier enlisted in the Army National Guard.  A few years later he was deployed to Iraq. 

On July 31, 2006, a roadside bomb blew through the truck Marksmeier and his buddy Josh Ford of Pender, Nebraska, were riding in. 

“When I was laying there on the field I remember looking up and truly accepting that this was it,” said Marksmeier.

Sergeant Ford lost his life.  Marksmeier was missing a leg and on the brink of death. 

“It took my right leg off and then it came up here at an angle,” said Marksmeier.

Marksmeier says the thought of his son Caiden kept him alive. 

“It isn’t luck.  I’m beyond blessed and it is definitely a second chance at life,” said Marksmeier.

Ten years later, Marksmeier’s third son, two-month old RJ slept soundly as his dad admired his new flag. 

“Oh it's nice because I have a big window, so now I can actually look out and see the flag,” said Marksmeier.

13Stripes50Stars founder and fellow veteran Cliff Leach thinks every disabled veteran deserves an American flag.  On Monday, the nonprofit installed its first flag. 

“Hopefully it's the start of a good thing to come,” said Marksmeier.

“It sure does give a little respect and honor to these guys for what their sacrifices were,” said Leach. 

Leach hopes the donations keep coming so he can continue his mission. 

“We’re ready to put up our next one,” said Leach.

Each pole and flag costs around $400.  Each flag is either provided by an individual sponsor or multiple donors.  If you’re like to donate email Leach at