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Nebraska Vietnam vet finally sees 1970 CBS News report when he learned about daughter's birth

53 years ago Lt. Col. Albert ‘Jeff’ Flagg was told of his daughter's birth while serving in Cambodia and he talked about it to a CBS News crew, but he never saw the video. Until now.
Posted at 6:41 PM, Jul 04, 2023

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — Last month we introduced you to retired Lt. Col. Albert ‘Jeff’ Flagg. The Purple Heart recipient served 25 years in the US Army, and 20 years as an educator.

Though retired now, he continues to educate students with his real-life experience presentations from when he served in Vietnam.

Omaha Burke High School social studies teachers consider him to be the greatest primary resource on the Vietnam War in Omaha. For years, the teachers have been wanting to thank him for all he has done for them and the students at Omaha Burke.

In fact, that's how 3 News Now Anchor Zach Williamson first learned about Flagg’s story. The teacher reached out to Zach with a request — a request we were able to make happen thanks to our friends at CBS.

The request comes from something that took place on May 1, 1970.

“I’m the first person, in the first vehicle of the first unit of the first organization, of the 25th Infantry Division of our brigade, that went into Cambodia,” Flagg told students during one of his many presentations.

The first lieutenant, at the time, and his fellow soldiers, were not entering Cambodia alone. They were joined by Gary Shepard and CBS News, who were specifically following Flagg.

“Number one, we hear you’re a good platoon leader,” Flagg recalls the CBS crew telling him. “Number two, your wife just had a baby girl and they’re both doing well.”

That’s right, Flagg found out his second daughter was born back home while he was set to enter Cambodia.

“We’ve all talked about, ‘Wouldn’t it be great if we could get that film for Jeff?’ He’s never seen it,” Omaha Burke social studies teacher, and Iraq veteran, Patrick Ryan said.

“I’m hoping someday I’ll be able to get that because it’s going to be good to give that to my kids, and to their kids, just for generations following so they see, ‘Oh, this is what grandpa did,’” Flagg said.

Well, that day finally came. It took about a month to track down the CBS report from 1970 with Flagg, but we were successful.

Ryan helped us conspire to surprise Flagg with the video. We told Flagg we had some follow-up questions. During the follow-up interview, Ryan put the video up on the projector and clicked play.

“How do I feel about having this baby? Well, you know, fantastic. One on Christmas Day and one on May 1. So, May Day and Christmas Day, big time of the year,” Flagg said in the CBS News report.

He watched the 53-year-old video in disbelief. On top of the segment that aired on CBS, we were also able to get file footage from that day CBS was filming Flagg's platoon. Ten minutes of footage in total.

“A little piece of him that was empty that he always talked about,” Ryan said. “I hope we filled it. That’s my hope.”

Flagg turned to the group of teachers who gathered for the big reveal, “You guys — you guys are the greatest.”

We asked about when he finally met his second daughter and reunited with his first.

“It was like 2 o’clock in the morning, so I couldn’t really interface with my daughter. I got to see both daughters, but they were both asleep,” he remembers. “But it was a wonderful thing.”

“What that must have been like — being away from your wife when your child is born. I can’t imagine anything more scary,” Ryan added. “And you’re going in the mouth of the cat so to speak.”

The surprises didn’t end there.

“Yeah, well I got something back there for Zach anyways,” Flagg said with a smile.

He gifted Zach his 50-year United States Vietnam War Commemoration Pin, along with two P-38s. The same can openers he used in Vietnam to open his rations 53 years ago, and has students use in presentations.

This time teaching and leaving an impact on Zach. Just another day for the colonel.

“A man is not judged by how much he loves, but by how much he is loved by others, and it’s evident in this room. It’s evident in this school, in this district, the stink he left,” Ryan said. “In the military, we say, ‘Hey colonel, you left a good stink here’. And he did. I’m proud to know him and I’m proud to call him my friend.”

The group of teachers thanked him for everything he has done, and said, ‘Welcome home’. Something he didn’t hear when he first returned home from the war.

Again, Flagg was speechless.

He said he can’t wait to add the video to his presentations moving forward.

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