Jeffrey Heisley was on track to become an officer in the Marine Corps when he was sidelined with hepatitis.
The illness forced him to leave the military.
“I look back at pictures of myself now, and I'm amazed at how bad I really did look,” he began.
“I had all my hair cut off and lost quite a bit of weight because of the hepatitis.”
One day in 1970, Jeffrey was at home with his father Newton Heisley. Newton was a World War II pilot and now an illustrator.
Newton looked at his son and said, “whoa, whoa, whoa, Jeff, let me see your profile.’"
His dad was charged with coming up with a flag for the National League of POW/MIA Families.
Newton sketched the rough draft in black and white but had every intention of adding color to the design.
However, the flags were printed quickly and became popular as they were, beginning a tradition that lasts today.
"Every state capitol has them. Many schools have them, and all the military bases post them at their stations," the website Homeofheros.com points out.
“It’s very important for the families of those missing in action and for former prisoners to have a tangible symbol of what their families have gone through,” Jeffrey added.
Newton died in 2009, but Jeffrey is still alive and working as a therapist in Alaska.