Family members of Thomas Christ cried as the flag of honor was placed in their hands.

Christ, a former Omahan and U.S. Navy veteran who died in 1979, was honored by the Nebraska chapter of Honor and Remember on Saturday morning.

Since the Nebraska chapter was established in 2013 it has presented honor flags to 87 families that lost loved ones in World War II and the wars in Korea, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan.

"We honor any branch, any race, men and women," said Jim Meier, director of the Nebraska chapter.

Thomas Christ was born in Omaha on Christmas Day in 1949. His mother passed away when he was 14 years old and his family moved to Indianapolis.

After attending Ball State University for a semester and realizing that college was not for him, he enlisted in the Navy.

"He really found his purpose in life," said Carole Christ, who was married to Thomas' father and raised Thomas since he was 14.

Thomas' sister, Patti Christ of Indianapolis, believes that Thomas chose the Navy because his dad served during World War II.

"He was just a very patriotic man," she said.

Thomas, who loved Nebraska football, baseball and fishing, was 29 when he died of stomach cancer. His family believes that it was due to his exposure of Agent Orange, a herbicide used by the military in the Vietnam War.

"He didn't die in the line of fire, but he did sacrifice and die for his country," Patti Christ said. "I feel better that he is being honored, but I feel so much pain."

Contact the writer: 402-444-1304, news@owh.com

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