American flag flies once again in front of Mare Island Hospital

A few people may find it strange that a flagpole — located in front of the unoccupied Mare Island Hospital, which closed in the late 1950s — once again holds an American flag.

For others, the location is a perfect place to fly the flag.

Through two world wars, American servicemen were treated at the hospital, with some succumbing to their wounds, making the location hallowed.

“You are seated on sacred ground,” said Shelley Berkley, Chief Executive Officer and Senior Provost of Touro University Western Division, to a group of dignitaries Friday morning. 

Veterans, local residents and elected officials were on hand to celebrate the raising of the flag and acknowledge the hard work of Touro University California students, who worked to have the flagpole — originally erected in 1901 — refurbished to working conditions.

“It’s nice to see the buildings again, it brings back memories,” said Phillip Johnson after the dedication ceremony.

The complex is comprised of the main hospital building and two hospital ward buildings. All three buildings are owned by Touro University California.

Johnson, of Vallejo was stationed in the hospital from 1954-1956 as a Hospital Corpsman.

“I remember giving salutes to the flag (in front of the hospital),” Johnson said as he gazed up the flagpole to the fluttering American flag.

The flag raised Friday was originally flown over the U.S. Capitol and donated by U.S. Rep. Mike Thompson of the 5th Congressional District.

Thompson said that placing an American flag at that location was appropriate due to the history of Mare Island Naval Shipyard, as burn victims from the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941 were treated at the hospital.

The famed American flag raised atop Mount Suribachi, during the Battle of Iwo Jima in World War II, was crafted at Mare Island, Thompson added.

“Patriotism is something that should be felt on our campus. It is pride. It is purpose,” said Zachary Landau, a College of Osteopathic Medicine student and officer in the Navy Reserves, in a university press release.

Landau and the campus’ military club spearheaded the effort to refurbished the flagpole after years of neglect.

“With our history on Mare Island and our many graduates serving the country here and abroad, we need the flag flown,” he added. “The time is overdue for Touro to do the same.”

American flag flies once again in front of Mare Island Hospital

Members of a U.S. Navy Color Guard raise an American flag in front of the former Mare Island Hospital on Friday. Touro University California students raised funds to refurbish the flagpole, which was originally erected in 1901. JOHN GLIDDEN — VALLEJO TIMES-HERALD