Local veteran shows unwavering devotion for US flag at Veteran’s Clinic

HOBBS Rain or shine each morning, U.S. Marine Veteran Richard Duran makes his way to the Hobbs VA Outpatient Clinic with a sense of duty guiding his steps. His simple but meaningful task — to gently unfurl Old Glory and respectfully send it up the clinic’s flagpole.

For Veterans like Duran, their dedication runs deep as a steadfast symbol of their unwavering commitment to their country.

“The day the Hobbs VA clinic opened up, I saw there was a need for someone to take the flag down every day,” said Duran. “I volunteered immediately and was able to bring my grandson along to teach him the meaning of the flag, and what it symbolizes for Veterans today.”

The Hobbs VA Outpatient Clinic relocated to a new, larger location on North Turner Street in 2021. In addition to primary care, it offers mental health care, rehabilitation and extended care, Women Veteran health care, and other support services to area Veterans.

Having served in Vietnam, Duran understands the sacrifices made by those who wore the uniform. He experienced the horrors of war, felt the weight of loss, and witnessed the resilience of the human spirit. For him, caring for the flag is a way to honor the memory of his fallen comrades and pay homage to the American values that his brothers-in-arms fought to defend.

“I take pride in my country because I signed up to fight for it,” Duran said in a news release. “The flag means everything to me, it represents a lot of what my friends and I did over there.”

Despite the passage of time, Duran’s sense of duty never waned. His days are spent tending to the flag with meticulous care, ensuring it flies proudly in the breeze. Each fold, each snap of the fabric echoed with reverence, a tribute to those who served and those who never made it back home.

“Some people didn’t come home, so this is my way of honoring them,” Duran said. “Every time I change the flag or see it, it keeps their memory alive in my heart so they are never forgotten.”

Duran’s devotion doesn’t go unnoticed. Patients, staff, and passersby often pause to watch him, their hearts stirred by the sight of a man volunteering his time, embodying the true spirit of service. Some approach him offering words of gratitude or simply a nod of acknowledgement. To Duran, these moments are a reminder that the bonds forged in service transcended time and circumstance.

“We see Mr. Duran as a patient and as a caretaker for our flag here,” said Health Information Specialist Jessica Taylor. “His respect and care for the flag really truly demonstrates the patriotic spirit we have for our Veterans.”

With the main medical center located at 300 Veterans Boulevard in Big Spring, the Hobbs VA Outpatient Clinic is one of five clinics operated by the West Texas VA Healthcare System.

The West Texas VA Healthcare System depends on the goodwill of community members who wish to give something back to America’s heroes. As a volunteer, you’ll provide many important functions throughout the health care system and help make a Veteran’s experience there more enjoyable. If you are interested in volunteering, contact 432-263-7361, ext. 4824; email [email protected]; or visit www.va.gov/west-texas-health-care/work-with-us/volunteer-or-donate.