It may not be crafted from the highest quality materials, but this flag’s history more than makes up for it.
US Senator Mark Warner will join the family of World War II POW James “Denny” Landrum to unveil the Omori American flag during a ceremony at the Virginia War Memorial tomorrow at 10:00 AM.
Landrum, a Richmond native, served in the US Navy. In April 1943, the submarine he was on, the USS Grenadier, was sunk by Japanese forces. Landrum and most of the crew were taken prisoners.
Landrum and fellow POWs at the Omori Prison Camp, located on an island near the Japanese coast, secretly made an American flag from a bed sheet and colored pencils during the 28 months they were imprisoned. A photo of Landrum waving the flag was taken when Allies liberated the camp in 1945 (see below). The flag hasn’t been on public display for nearly 70 years.
The POW whose bed sheet was used to make the flag donated the flag to the Naval History and Heritage Command in 1973. It was subsequently placed in storage.
In the late 1970s, Landrum began searching for the flag. After his death in 1980, his son, Jerry, carried on the search. The flag was finally located in a warehouse at the Washington Navy Yard last year.
Landrum’s family solicited the help of Sen. Warner to successfully persuade the Naval History and Heritage Command to loan the flag to the Virginia War Memorial in Landrum’s hometown.
“We couldn’t be more excited to have the opportunity to display this iconic and historic artifact at the Virginia War Memorial,” said Jon Hatfield, the Virginia War Memorial’s executive director. “Not only is the flag an enduring symbol of the courage and sacrifice of all our World War II POWs, it has a special and unique connection to Denny Landrum, a proud Virginian. Now his story and his legacy will be shared by all who come to see this exhibit here.”
The flag will be on display at the War Memorial for the next six to eight months.
The Virginia War Memorial is located at 621 S. Belvidere Street.