2014 49¢ Flag With 2 Full and 2 Partial Stars
Red, White, and Blue
The U.S. Postal Service describes this stamp as a “modern interpretation of a flying flag” with six stripes and “handful” of stars. Each of the four stamp designs has a different number of complete stars. They were issued in coils of 10,000 for business use.
Marine Corporal Otto Erler was knocked unconscious by an artillery shell on May 6, 1942. He awoke to find a bayonet in his face. But it was the scene unfolding behind his captor that brought the rugged Texan to tears. The Japanese were tearing down the U.S. flag that had flown over Corregidor throughout the brutal five-month siege. To Erler, it seemed that America itself had fallen.
Half starved and suffering from dysentery, Erler and his comrades were imprisoned in Manila, waiting for the ship that was to transport them to a prisoner of war camp. Erler wandered away from his captors briefly in search of toilet paper and found a 45-star United States flag instead.
At risk of death, Erler smuggled the flag aboard the ship and kept his secret from everyone until a fellow Marine died at sea. The captors prepared to unceremoniously throw his body overboard. To everyone’s astonishment, Erler stepped forward with his flag and demanded a proper military burial at sea. The ship’s captain approved the request, the first of 25 burials in which the flag would be used.
Erler and his flag survived three and a half years in captivity. As he was being liberated, the Marine watched as the Japanese flag was lowered over the POW camp and his American flag was raised in victory.
The stamps were designed by Ethel Kessler. Her inspiration came from patriotic pins and flags of the 20th century. She has been an art director with the U.S. Postal Service since 1997 and has been involved in the creation of about 80 stamps.
49¢ Red, White & Blue, issued to satisfy the first-class mail rate
Issue Date: April 25, 2014
City: San Francisco, CA, at the WESTPEX Stamp Show
Printed By: CCL Labels Inc.
Printing Method: Photogravure
Perforations: Serpentine Die Cut 11 Vertical