Northwest Florida

Army veteran fired after removing tattered American flag

ALRICO, Fla. (WFLA) - -

Hindsight being 20/20, Nicholas Odparlik knows he could've handled the situation differently. 

 

But he keeps going back to every time he walked into work at the Loomis office in Oklahoma City, seeing that tattered American flag flying in front of the building. 

He thinks about the countless times he mentioned the issue to his supervisors, who in his mind, blew him off. 

He thinks about the eight years he spent in the army, serving our country, and he thinks about the other members of his family, including his father, who also served.

Odparlik admits he was angry and upset. He snapped. This was the flag he fought for. The flag he was willing to die for and no one seemed to care.

Before heading to Valrico with his dad, a surprise visit to his 80-something grandmother's house, he took the flag down and cut it from the rope, with the intention of disposing of it properly. 

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In hindsight, he should've replaced the flag with a new one before removing the old one, or perhaps notified his boss about what he had done.

On Thursday, he was sitting at the dinner table with his dad, grandparents and other relatives when the phone rang. It was work. 

Hindsight being 20/20, he probably should have waited to call back, but he didn't. His boss wanted to discuss the matter. 

Odparlik told the supervisor he was with his family and now was not the time. His supervisor told him he was to bring his uniforms when he returned because he was terminated.

"What I did wasn't right either, two wrongs don't make a right as the quote goes," said Odparlik. "But at the end of the day, this is my country, this is my home and I was offended."

Odparlik returned to the dinner table and acted like nothing was wrong, but later that night when his grandmother, Gudrun Olparlik, saw him staring into space from the couch, she knew something wasn't right. 

"And he showed me the shredded flag, and I said, 'they fired you for that?'" Gudrun asked. "I said, 'that's a disgrace.'"

Odparlik and his dad are scheduled to fly back home on Saturday. Odparlik says he plans to make things right. 

When he returns to work with his uniforms, he also plans to bring a brand new flag as well. 

He doesn't expect he will get his job back, nor does he regret what he did. 

"You've just gotta stand up for what's right sometimes," said Nicholas. "I guess that's the hardest thing about being an American soldier and sometimes you have to take that fall. And I knew nobody else would."

Calls to Loomis corporate and his direct supervisor in Oklahoma City for comment were not returned.  


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