Expert tells collector his Navy dad's old Pearl Harbor story couldn't be true

An 'Antiques Roadshow' appraiser noted a key detail: A small date on a US flag
Posted at 7:46 PM, Aug 31, 2022

The PBS favorite, Antiques Roadshow, has brought many classic moments over the years. Still, one clip recently shared by a PBS station shows that family folklore can sometimes be debunked by historians.

In the segment, which originally aired on PBS on April 12, 2018, a man explained how his Navy father plucked a damaged American flag out of the water shortly after Pearl Harbor was attacked on December 7, 1941 by the Japanese military.

The man said, according to his father's recount, he took the damaged flag out of the water, shook it off, let it dry off, and the family has had the damaged piece of American history in their possession every since that day.

Appraiser Jeff Shrader, who is an expert in Arms and Militaria, said that he was able to verify that the man's father was at Pearl Harbor. His father passed down documentation as a decorated Navy veteran who was awarded "the Navy Unit Commendation for service during the following period: 7 December 1941," according to one verified document that Shrader reviewed and displayed in the televised segment.

But there was one shocking detail discovered during the antique event in Sarasota, Florida, which brought the value of the flag down considerably to just a few hundred dollars.

The flag's manufacture date was stamped with "44," meaning it was made in 1944, around 3 years after the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Shrader said the revelation wasn't meant to "cast dispersion" on his father.

It was comedian and actor Andy Richter, best known as the sidekick on the Conan O'Brien show, who highlighted the comedic moment in the clip, which was shared by Boston PBS station WGBH.

Richter mentioned, jokingly, that he is an "aficionado of family lies and liars," saying he enjoyed the segment.

WGBH reposted his Twitter comment responding with, "When family lore runs face first into a @roadshowpbs appraiser!"

The flag, while still an important piece of World War I and World War II history, had itsvalue drop from hundreds of thousands of dollars, to somewhere between $300 and $500 according to Shrader.

Watch the clip of the Antiques Roadshow episode here: