Flags again lowered to honor fallen pilot

The county asked the state for the OK after a local veteran pointed out flag protocol ran counter to their previous action.

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WALLA WALLA -- Flags at the Walla Walla County courthouse and all county offices are being flown at half-staff today in honor of 1st Lt. Mathew "Mat" Fazzari, who was killed in action in Afghanistan.

The flags were returned to half-staff after Brent Heinemann, director of the governor's Office of International Relations and Protocol concurred with the position of the county and other local entities requesting to be allowed to lower all flags to half-staff as a sign of respect prior to the official directive from Gov. Chris Gregoire.

The flags at the courthouse and county offices were raised to full staff Monday until the directive to lower them was issued by the governor.

In a statement, county commissioners said they were "sorry for confusion that has ensued in this situation, and want to make it clear that no disrespect was intended."

"Although a veteran correctly advised that the flag lowering was not in compliance with flag protocol, and Gov. Gregoire had not yet issued an official directive in regards to the same, we felt so strongly about wanting to show our respect for in this sorrowful situation for our community that we contacted the governor's office to request action.

"At that time (Monday) afternoon, we were advised that if we so wished to take that action, flags could be lowered at county offices. As such, flags at county offices will be lowered to half-staff, where they will remain until further notice."

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