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Tyrone woman helps trace missing flag that flew over 9/11 ruins

By Adrian Rutherford

Published 12/10/2016

The flag now on display in the 9/11 Memorial Museum
The flag now on display in the 9/11 Memorial Museum
Monica Hughes Rosero

It is an iconic image of a nation's steely defiance after the devastation of the attacks on New York's famous Twin Towers.

Now a Northern Ireland woman has helped trace a US flag which was hoisted amid the rubble of the World Trade Centre 15 years ago.

The photograph of three firefighters raising the Stars and Stripes at Ground Zero in the hours after 9/11 was shown around the world.

But the flag later vanished, with nobody quite sure what became of it.

Now it has been tracked down - thanks to the help of former Dungannon woman Monica Hughes Rosero.

She said: "I am very, very blessed and very proud to be a part of this story."

The photograph was taken hours after hijacked planes were crashed into the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001.

Firefighter Dan McWilliams saw a flag hanging from the back of a yacht called the Star of America docked on the Hudson River, close to Ground Zero.

Along with colleagues George Johnson and Billy Eisengrein, he decided to raise it at the scene.

Nearby, photographer Thomas Franklin snapped the shot for the Bergen Record that, a day later, would be seen around the world.

The Associated Press picked up the photo and it was on the cover of Newsweek. It also featured on a US postage stamp.

It became so famous that New York City Hall requested it for a massive ceremony at Yankee Stadium. The flag was later given to the US Navy, so it could be raised on ships heading to war in Afghanistan.

It travelled the world before finally returning to New York City in early 2012 - but then mysteriously vanished.

The story took a fresh twist when, in 2014, it featured on the History Channel.

Four days later, a man walked into a fire station in Washington, clutching a plastic bag, and saying he believed he had the flag.

The History Channel enlisted Monica, who worked on the Star of America yacht, to help with the identification.

She recognised some of its features as being the handiwork of her late husband Carlos Rosero, the boat's engineer.

Because of Monica's help, and other investigations, it was confirmed as the missing flag. It has since been returned to New York, where it is now on display.

Monica, who is originally from Killymaddy Knox in Dungannon, now lives in Fort Lauderdale in Florida.

She told the Tyrone Courier: "The flag was taken from the yacht and the flag indeed had gone missing.

"The History Channel made it their mission to find the flag. It is now back in New York City, where it belongs."

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