SPOTLIGHT

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St. Moritz 1948 Olympic Winter Games
Jack Heaton’s Olympic career began with a silver medal in men’s skeleton at the St. Moritz 1928 Olympic Winter Games, followed by the bronze in two-man bobsled at Lake Placid 1932. When the Olympic Winter Games resumed following World War II, Heaton was selected to carry the flag in the Opening Ceremony and he won another silver in men’s skeleton.
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London 1948 Olympic Games
Ralph Craig won gold medals at the Stockholm 1912 Olympic Games in the men’s 100- and 200-meter sprints. At 59 years old, he was an alternate on the sailing team at the London 1948 Olympic Games and while he was the U.S. flag bearer at the Opening Ceremony, he did not compete in the Olympics.
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Oslo 1952 Olympic Winter Games
Bobsledder James Bickford competed in four Olympic Winter Games, winning the bronze medal in the four-man bobsled at St. Moritz 1948. He is one of only three people to carry the flag more than once in the Opening Ceremony; four years later, he also had the honor at Cortina d’Ampezzo 1956.
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Rome 1960 Olympic Games
The silver medalist in the decathlon at Melbourne 1956, at the Rome 1960 Olympic Games, Rafer Johnson became the first Black American to be the U.S. flag bearer in the Opening Ceremony. He won the decathlon gold medal in Rome, lit the cauldron at the Los Angeles 1984 Olympic Games and is a member of the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Hall of Fame.
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Calgary 1988 Olympic Winter Games
A West Point graduate and U.S. Army veteran, it was at his fourth and final Olympic Winter Games as a biathlon competitor that Lyle Nelson was selected to be the U.S. flag bearer. He later would serve as the president of the U.S. Biathlon Association.
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Barcelona 1992 Olympic Games
Marathon runner Francie Larrieu Smith, a five-time Olympian, was the first American woman to run the marathon in less than 2 ½ hours and won 22 national titles throughout her career.
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Atlanta 1996 Olympic Games
Wrestler Bruce Baumgartner competed in four Olympic Games, medaling each time, including gold at Los Angeles 1984 and Barcelona 1992. He is a member of the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Hall of Fame
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Sydney 2000 Paralympic Games
Table tennis player Mike Dempsey was selected U.S. flag bearer for the Opening Ceremony of his seventh Paralympic Games. Dempsey won three gold medals, four silvers and two bronze in his Paralympic career.
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Salt Lake City 2002 Paralympic Winter Games
Competing in her eighth Paralympics, Candace Cable carried the U.S. flag in the Opening Ceremony. She raced in the summer Paralympics and was a downhill skier in the winter Paralympics, winning 12 medals in all, eight gold. Cable was inducted into the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Hall of Fame.
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Athens 2004 Olympic Games
Basketball player Dawn Staley was selected to carry the flag in the Opening Ceremony prior to her third Olympic Games. Staley helped Team USA win the gold at Atlanta 1996, Sydney 2000 and again at Athens 2004. In 2017, she was named coach of the U.S. Women’s Basketball Team.
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Torino 2006 Olympic Winter Games
In an attempt to cross-train, speedskater Chris Witty picked up cycling and joined the short list of Team USA athletes to compete in the summer and winter Olympics. She competed at four Olympic Winter Games, winning one gold medal, one silver and one bronze; she competed in cycling at the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games.
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Beijing 2008 Olympic Games
One of the Lost Boys of Sudan, runner Lopez Lomong became the sixth person not born in the United States to be Team USA’s flag bearer at the Olympics. He also competed at the London 2012 Olympic Games.
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Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games
What an incredible day it was for cross-country skier Bill Demong, who won the gold medal in the 10km large hill event, then proposed to his longtime girlfriend during a party at the U.S. Ski Team House. A few minutes later, Demong was told he had been selected the U.S. flag bearer for the Closing Ceremony.
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Vancouver 2010 Paralympic Winter Games
Downhill skier Heath Calhoun, who was injured while serving in the U.S. Army in Iraq, was chosen as the U.S. flag bearer prior to his first Paralympics.
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London 2012 Paralympic Games
Three-sport Paralympian Scott Danberg, competing in his fifth Paralympic Games, was the U.S. flag bearer for the Opening Ceremony. Danberg, who competed track and field, swimming and powerlifting, won the silver medal in javelin at Seoul 1988.
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London 2012 Paralympic Games
U.S. Navy Lieutenant Brad Snyder, who one year earlier lost his eyesight while serving in Afghanistan, won two gold medals and one silver in swimming in London and was selected the U.S. flag bearer for the Closing Ceremony.
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Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games
Cross-country skier Todd Lodwick, who became the first U.S. athlete to compete in six Olympic Winter Games, was the flag bearer for Opening Ceremony. At Vancouver 2010, Lodwick helped Team USA win the silver medal in the men’s large hill 4x5km.
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Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games
Hockey player Julie Chu, a four-time Olympian and the second-most decorated U.S. female athlete (three silver medals, one bronze) in Olympic Winter Games history, was the U.S. flag bearer in the Closing Ceremony.
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Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games
Downhill skier Jon Lujan, who served two stints in the U.S. Marine Corps and was injured while serving in Iraq, was the flag bearer prior to his first Paralympics. He was the third consecutive veteran to carry the U.S. flag in the Paralympics Games Opening Ceremony.
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Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games
Having led Team USA to its second consecutive gold medal in sled hockey, goalie Steve Cash was the U.S. flag bearer for the Closing Ceremony.
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Rio de Janeiro 2016 Olympic Games
Already the most decorate Olympian of all time, Michael Phelps added one more line to his resume, carrying the U.S. flag in the Opening Ceremony of his fifth Olympic Games. It was the first time he attended the Opening Ceremony, with special transportation arranged so that Phelps could depart after the Parade of Nations and prepare for his races the next day. Phelps won five gold medals and one silver in Rio.
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Rio de Janeiro 2016 Paralympic Games
Dual-sport athlete Allison Jones, competing in her eighth Paralympics, was the Opening Ceremony U.S. flag bearer. She won eight Paralympic medals in cycling and skiing.
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PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games
Four-time Olympian Erin Hamlin, who at Sochi 2014 became the first U.S. woman to win an Olympic luge singles medal, carried the U.S. flag in the Opening Ceremony after a controversial tiebreaker. In voting by the Team USA sport delegations, Hamlin and speed skater Shani Davis were tied; a coin flip was held to determine the flag bearer.
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PyeongChang 2018 Paralympic Winter Games
Snowboarder Mike Schultz, who engineered his own prosthetic design after the amputation of his left leg, carried the U.S. flag in the Opening Ceremony. He won one gold medal and one silver in PyeongChang.
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PyeongChang 2018 Paralympic Winter Games
After winning two gold medals and five total in skiing and biathlon, Oksana Masters carried the U.S. flag at the Closing Ceremony.
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Virtual Exhibit: Flag Day

It is one of the greatest honors that an athlete can receive: Being selected by their peers as the flag bearer in the Opening Ceremony or Closing Ceremony of an Olympic or Paralympic Games.

Ralph Rose, who participated in track and field and tug of war, first carried the U.S. flag in the Opening Ceremony at the London 1908 Olympic Games. The first woman to carry the flag at an Olympic Games was fencer Janice Romary at the Mexico City 1968 Olympic Games.

“This Games experience is the result of all of my support from my family, friends, coaches and countless others. The medals don’t mean anything to me, but they are a thank you to my support network and my team,” said swimmer Brad Snyder, who carried the flag at the London 2012 Paralympic Games Closing Ceremony. “To be able to carry the flag for my team, my country, that is what means a lot to me.”

As we celebrate Flag Day on June 14, here is a look at some of the men and women who have been Team USA flag bearers.

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