AL ASAD, Iraq -- You take the flag, march it to the flag pole, call the commands and fly the colors. A member of the color guard for Marine Light Attack Squadron 167, Lance Cpl. Nick R. Baham, a Denver native, has done it a hundred times. However, on Oct. 10, it was different.
The flag that Baham flew that morning would not fly again the next day. On Oct. 10, Baham flew the flag as a gift to his biological mother, who is suffering from breast cancer.
After flying in the Iraqi desert for a day, the flag was taken down like any other, folded and will be sent to his mother in Denver.
“It’s breast cancer awareness month, so I decided to do something special for her,” said Baham, an administrative clerk with HML/A-167.
Baham was adopted when he was twelve. Though he was adopted by a very loving family, Baham always harbored a desire to know his birth mother. Shortly before he reported to recruit training, he began a relationship with her, but the demands of military life have limited his ability to see her. Baham said she fears he is resentful, and flying the colors is his way of showing that is not the case.
“It means a lot to me to do this,” he said. “She thought I hated her and I wanted to show her that I still love her and care about her.”
Baham’s noncommissioned officer-in-charge, Sgt. Jason E. Johnson, of New Milford, N.J., said Baham is extremely family oriented.
“As soon as we got off the plane in Kuwait, Baham wanted to know where the phone center was,” he said. “When we got here, it was the same thing. He’s extremely family oriented.”
Baham is the junior Marine in his office, and is still learning about the Marine Corps and his job, but his dedication and motivation are never in doubt. He hatched the idea to fly the flag for his mother in mid-September, and Staff Sgt. April D. Rains, HML/A 167’s administrative chief, helped him go through the necessary channels and do the proper research.
“It was good for him, he was very excited,” said Rains, a Louisville native. “We started looking into when Breast Cancer Awareness Month was and setting it up.”
Baham said his adopted family is supportive of his new relationship with his birth mother. “A lot of families feel like they’re sharing their kids,” he said. “My adopted mom knows I love her and always will.”
Johnson said although Baham had always taken his color guard duties seriously, he learned a very personal lesson about flying the flag on the morning of Oct. 10.
“He was adamant that he be the one who sounded the commands,” Johnson said. “He always served on the color guard, but I don’t think he really grasped what it means to fly the flag for someone.”
On Monday, Oct. 10, he did.