NewsPositively Utah


Garbage man takes flag out of Utah home's trash can, folds it

Posted at 9:37 PM, Apr 26, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-26 23:37:20-04

HUNTINGTON, Utah — Don "Munch" Gardner spends anywhere from eight to twelve hours a day in his truck every day, picking up garbage cans from hundreds of homes all over Emery and Carbon counties.

“I stay pretty busy," he said. "I’m the go-to guy. Something needs to be done, they come to me, I take care of it.”

Gardner doesn't have the need, or the time, to get out of his truck to pick up the garbage cans, but on the rare occasion, he will, if he spots a familiar piece of red-white-and-blue fabric peeking out under the lid.

“I took an oath once to defend this country and our flag, and I still do," said Gardner. “A lot of people died protecting that flag and fighting under that flag. A lot of blood's been shed so that we have the freedoms that we have today."

Last week, Brooke Cowley, a Huntington resident on Gardner's garbage route, spied the United States Marine Corps veteran taking an American flag out of her trash can and folding it.

“He pulls up, he gets out of his truck, and I’m thinking, 'What is he doing?,'" she said. "And then immediately, I was so embarrassed, like, oh my gosh, I was petrified, because I’m married to a veteran. What am I doing?”

Cowley shared the video on Facebook, admitting to accidentally throwing away the flag during a clean-up after celebrating Easter at home, and admiring her garbage man’s actions.

“I wanted our community to really see what he did, and to see the care and love that he gave our flag," she said. "I wanted them to see and to give him the respect that he gave to our flag.”

Those who’ve known the man nicknamed “Munch” in high school for his small size, weren’t shocked to see the video.

“I just thought, that is Don, that is who Don is," said Whitney Phelps. "That didn’t surprise me that he did it, because he is a veteran, but I think when you’re from a small town, you kind of have a love for your country and for the flag.”

Gardner had no idea he was caught on camera.

“It’s just something I do," he said.

He’s saved at least a dozen flags from the landfill in his 11 years on the job.

“Makes me mad," he said. "I get angry. Sometimes it’s a mistake. Most of the time, it’s on purpose. I have a problem with that, so I just take it out take care of it.”

The veteran wants people to know that there’s a right way to say goodbye to an American flag; a member of the local American Legion post, the group has annual flag burning ceremonies that people can attend, said Gardner.

“Anybody in Emery County that knows me, if you don’t know what to do with it, get it to me," he said. "I’ll make sure it’s took care of proper.”