Newt Heisley, who gained national attention for his design of the POW-MIA flag, died Thursday at his home Colorado Springs home. He was 88 years old.
A flag widely seen by the entire nation, on Federal buildings as well as on the leather jackets of Harley riders, will live on as a testament to a man who never sought recognition for anything except those who were left behind in Vietnam.
Newt, who sketched out the design for the flag in 1971, never thought it would gain the recognition it did. He only thought of himself as just "the ad guy. He wanted to come up with a symbol to keep ever in our minds those left behind in one of Americas most difficult conflicts. The flag is the only one, besides the United States Flag, to fly over the White House, as it did during Ronald Reagan's tenure on the first POW/MIA Recognition Day. According to Heisley it's the second most popular flag next to the United States Flag. Heisley never tried to copy write the image. He gave all who wanted to reproduce the image permission to use it. He felt it was better as a public image.
Sadly, he also believed that POW-MIA issue would someday fad from the public's memory. He said “It think it’s going to happen...All things fade someday.” As the conflict of Vietnam slowly disappears into the rear view mirror of our collective minds, so might the issue of MIA's. We hope this not true and that Newt's original impetus for making the design stands the test of time. At that time Newt said “We can’t forget because we owe it to the guys who are missing in action and prisoners of war,”
He did not want any big ceremony on the occasion of his passing just a celebration of his life. But he will get one of sorts. On June 14th, Flag Day, American Legion Post, in Security Colorado, will hold a ceremony, to which the public is invited, to remember the man, the flag, and those who have not come home to us yet.
Newt Heisley is survived by his Son Jeffery, model for the silhouette on the flag, Two daughters-in-law Susan and Deborah Heisley, and granddaughter Sara Heisley.