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Man is on a mission to return a burial flag found in traffic in San Luis Obispo

Man is on a mission to return a burial flag found at a traffic stop in San Luis Obispo
Local veteran and museum docent believes the flag could be from World War I.
Posted at 5:30 PM, Oct 08, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-09 12:16:57-04

A burial flag flew out of a truck in traffic in San Luis Obispo.

Javier Cadena, the driver who recovered it, is now using social media to hopefully return this memento to its owners.

“I got off all the glass of it, shaked it off, ran off, all the cars driving by were like what is this guy doing?” recalled Cadena. “Once I got back in my car, it finally hit me the emotion that someone has tied to this.”

The flag was found on Wednesday around 4:50 p.m. at the corner of Madonna Road and Los Osos Valley Road.

“I was turning right on Los Osos Valley Road and this grey truck in front of me had their camper shell pop up open,” explained Cadena. “This frame shot out, I didn’t have a clue of what it was, I saw the glass just shatter.”

All Javier Cadena can think about is finding out who it belongs to.

“Somebody put their life on the line to get this and it means something to that family member and this is all they have afterwards which is why they are being given this,” said Cadena.

Cadena shared photos of the flag, which is missing its glass case because of the accident, on social media. However, there are not many clues about who it belongs to.

“All I saw is a gray truck, medium size with a camper shell,” said Cadena.

KSBY News showed the photo of this burial flag to docents at the Veteran’s Museum in San Luis Obispo to try and find out more about it.

“The flag is folded in a certain way, so it always comes up with a star showing," explained Don Muller, a veteran and docent coordinator at the Veteran’s Museum in San Luis Obispo. “Part of the flag is left out and stuffed inside the rest of the flag... there’s an art to it.”

There is an emotional attachment to these flags as they are only given to the families of deceased veterans or members of the military.

“After it’s folded it's given to the family, wife, children, whatever the case might be and it becomes a memorial,” added Muller. “That flag drapes the coffin before the coffin is lowered.”

While the fallen hero behind this flag remains a mystery, just by looking closely at its stitches, a lot can be said about its owner.

“I would say that’s a much older flag, it looks like it was handmade or hand-stitched,” said Muller.

This burial flag is a piece of our country’s history.

“I think I would go back to World War I on that particular flag,” concluded Muller.

Cadena hopes the community can help him.

“I want to know the story behind it, I think this popped up to my hands for a reason, so I would like to know the story behind it,” said Cadena.

If you know who this flag belongs to, you can reach out to our newsroom via email at or call us at 805-597-8400.