Y-12 employee raises flagless pole issue, gets attention

  • Posted: Thursday, August 19, 2021, 4:10 pm

Jan West (left) and Jeff Barnard (right) stand in front of the new flag at Post 5.
Jan West (left) and Jeff Barnard (right) stand in front of the new flag at Post 5.

While the Stars and Stripes is easy to spot at multiple locations around Y-12, one employee noticed a place on site that seemed to be missing a flag. Because he brought attention to the issue, Old Glory is now proudly displayed at this prominent location.

For months, Jeff Barnard, a painter at Y-12 for more than 40 years, drove past a bare flag pole at the old Post 5 on the east end of First Street twice every day.

“As I passed through Post 5 and noticed the flag pole with no flag flying on it, I thought it was really sad, especially with what our mission is and what we do here at Y-12.”

Barnard took his concerns to his Joint Labor Management team where members Calvin Gallaher, Frank Lyles, and Jan West initiated a plan to run a flag up the pole. Infrastructure’s Roads and Grounds crew provided a new rope and a flag. Power Operations made sure that the flag would be properly illuminated in accordance with the lighting code and to protect its integrity.

“It made me realize that in America, sometimes we get so busy we forget what the flag stands for,” said Lyles, director of Plant Services. “It represents our nation, our future, our families, and our mission. And part of the mission at Y-12 is to make sure a flag is always flying.”

Jan West, senior director of Y-12 Environment, Safety, and Health, and an Air Force veteran, agreed. “It is the bigger picture of why we are here, and I would like to think a large portion of our workforce connects because of what the flag stands for,” she said. “It is very symbolic for what we do here and for our mission.”

West is one of many veterans who, along with still serving military personnel, work at Y-12.

Major John Toliver, who served 15 years of active service before transitioning to the Army Reserves, believes that our flag represents our nation and its people.

“The American flag is a symbol of what we’re defending every time we step across that blue line and come to work,” said Toliver, Special Operations Command - Strategic Partnerships.

“It should be flown at every corner of Y-12 for all to see. Our mission is to ensure a safe and effective U.S. nuclear weapons deterrent and to reduce global threat of weapons of mass destruction,” he said. “We are each called upon to strengthen our national security and what we do every day matters for the nation and we should all be very proud of that.”