Soldiers Haul Down Upside-Down Flag In Tucumcari

TUCUMCARI, N.M. (KRQE) –  An upside-down American flag flying over a shop in Tucumcari didn’t sit well with Zach Phillips.

Phillips says he was driving with his fiancee when she spotted an upside-down flag flying.

“It wasn’t a good feeling,” Phillips said. “It almost felt like something wasn’t right.”

He snapped a shot and posted it on Facebook. Saturday, three of his military friends, Steven McClure, Mario Chavez and Joseph Otero drove out and took matters into their own hands. Phillips says they climbed up the pole and took the upside-down flag down.

McClure and Otero say they did it because they saw the upside-down flag as a sign of disrespect.

A Facebook post from Chavez shows an empty flagpole over the same building with the caption, “Fixed it.”

But there’s another side to this story.

The store’s owner, Steven Benavidez, says he hung it that way for a reason. Benavidez, a Vietnam veteran, says he did it because he believes the United States and Tucumcari itself, is in distress.

“It’s about time somebody had enough courage to get up and speak out,” Benavidez said.

Flying a flag upside down is typically regarded as a sign of dire distress.

Two of the men who took the flag down met with Benavidez Sunday night to return his flag to him. Benavidez says he explained his position to the two and they shook hands. He says he understands why they reacted the way they did but says he plans on continuing to fly the flag upside down.

Last year, two Marines got attention for chasing down an APD protester carrying an upside-down flag on a scooter and walking away with it after they dropped it. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others and keep the conversation on topic and civil. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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