RICHMOND, Va. — Richard Oulton’s U.S. flag — the one that stirred controversy and earned him national headlines when he pledged to fly it despite a judge’s order more than 15 years ago — has returned once again to a towering flagpole in his front yard in the Wyndham neighborhood in western Henrico County in Virginia.
Ordered by a judge to take the flagpole down in 2003 because it violated homeowner association rules, a revamped homeowners association has given him a green light.
“It’s been a 50-year fight actually because I wanted to fly a flag on my property ever since I came from Vietnam,” Oulton said Saturday at a celebration in his yard for the flag raising.
Oulton’s battle with the Wyndham Homeowners Association over his right to erect a flagpole in his front yard began in 1999. He appealed as high as the Virginia and U.S. supreme courts, both of which declined to interfere with the ruling ordering him to remove the pole.
“Twenty years ago, I got a nice house I thought it would look great on. Then I was told it was a visual nuisance and I was ordered to take it down or go to jail, basically. That was the final order from the judge. So 20 years later I persevered, and here it is. It’s clearly a beautiful flag on a beautiful pole,” Oulton said.
In 2003, Oulton estimated the battle had cost him nearly a quarter of a million dollars.
The flag is the same one Oulton flew over his bunker in Vietnam, where he served as a Marine.
Saturday’s event drew a crowd for the ceremony in Oulton’s yard at 11900 Alor Court and for a picnic-like gathering afterward with food from Mission BBQ.
Linda Delbridge said patriotism brought her and many others out.
“Knowing most of these people here and how they feel about [Oulton] and about the flag,” Delbridge said. “He has waited for over 20 years to have this flag fly.”