NORTH WILDWOOD — Once a year, the Corcoran family flies an American flag at its home at 101 E. 11th Avenue. It's a matter of tradition.

The flag is the same one that had covered the casket of Patrick M. Corcoran — who at age 19, in 1969, died in Vietnam. A Philadelphia Inquirer story from 2012 recounts how the young Torresdale man was lost at the bottom of the South China Sea with 72 other men and much of the American destroyer Frank E. Evans.

According to FOX 29's Lucy Noland, Patrick's brother, Thomas, recounted to her their father asked him to make sure the flag flies every year — and so Thomas, through the generosity of neighbors who let him borrow the use of their flagpole, usually raises the 4.6-foot-by-10-foot flag every Memorial Day. This year, because of rain, the date was moved to Independence Day.

But North Wildwood's tourism department wrote on Facebook Monday the Corcoran family found the flag had been stolen. According to Nolan, when Tom was told by neighbors it had been taken, they both broke town crying.

"Needless to say, the Corcoran family is very distraught at the loss of this very meaningful flag," the tourism department wrote.

Another women wrote on the police department's Facebook page her flag, too, was stolen from East 10th Avenue on Monday.

"Not the significance of this flag, but I'm beginning to see a pattern," Dee Dee Cubler wrote.

New Jersey 101.5 has not been able to reach the Corcoran family directly.

The family is asking for the flag to be returned to them, or to the North Wildwood Recreation Center at 900 Central Ave., no questioned asked. But police say they're aslo investigating the theft, and ask anyone with information to contact them at 609-522-2411 or at

"That's really low," Rick Kelly wrote on the tourism department's Facebook page. "I hope whoever took it brings it back. The flag has a lot of meaning for the Corcoran family. Patrick will always be a hero, no matter what."

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