Thursday, October 7, 2010

Your Ricky Stanzi "America, Love It or Leave It!" Moment of the Day: The Tar Heels have a Grand Old Flag

A lot of college football teams run out onto the field carrying the US flag. But the flag carried by North Carolina Tar Heel junior safety Matt Merletti is extra special. It's won that was flown in Iraq and Afghanistan by his brother, Captain Mike Merletti,  a US Army Ranger serving in the 101st Airborne Division.

“We were e-mailing each other back and forth,” Matt Merletti said. “I told him, ‘I think it would be a pretty cool idea if you flew a flag for me on a couple of missions over there in Iraq, and gave it to me whenever you get back to the States.’”

The elder Merletti did, and Matt began carrying it onto the field. When he was injured in 2009,  he had other Tar Heel players carry it for him.  Now healthy, he once again leads the team into the stadium with the flag, now with a few extra miles on it.

"When the Tar Heels took the field in the Georgia Dome, Merletti again carried the flag his brother got for him. This time, it was a bit more well-traveled as Mike Merletti took it with him on his deployment to Afghanistan."

Matt is considering following his brother and father into military service if he doesn't get drafted by the NFL. 

(via Winston-Salem Journal, The Star)

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