Unusual gift helps Moore couple display American spirit

  • Published
  • By Brandice J. O'Brien
  • Tinker Public Affairs
To many, May 20, 2013, will be remembered as the day when an EF-5 tornado devastated Moore. But, to Edwin and Edith Kincaid, the date might invoke a different feeling -- one that sparks hope, love and patriotism.

Just days after the tornado wreaked havoc on their home, neighborhood and town, the Kincaids received an invaluable gift from a stranger -- Scott LoBaido of Staten Island, N.Y. Mr. LoBaido voluntarily painted an American flag on their roof, spanning the entire surface of it.

"It was just awesome," said Edwin "Ed" Kincaid, a subject matter expert technical lead within the Air Force Sustainment Center Engineering Directorate's Technology and Insertion Branch. "We were very lucky and honored to represent Moore, Oklahoma, with Scott's flag. I just wish it could have stayed up longer."

In 1982, the newlyweds purchased the brand-new 1,000 square-foot single-level home with three bedrooms and two bathrooms. Despite the couple not owning a storm shelter, they've weathered tornadoes in 1999 and 2003 with minimal damage.

As the May 20 tornado brewed, Edith took shelter in a bedroom closet; Ed was at work. When the tornado swept through it caused significant damage to their street, leveling almost every home. Edith survived unscathed, but the house endured minor damage, including issues with the roof and broken windows. They also lost power for eight days.
Despite the grim surroundings, the Kincaids opted to stay in the house, noting in all the tragedy the plants in the front yard were still thriving.

On May 31, after the insurance adjuster visited the home, the Kincaids weathered another storm and endured more damage. Despite securing a tarp to the roof, water had still managed its way into the house. Six inches of rain resulted in gallons of water inside. The list of damage now included replacing the ceiling, siding, trim, carpet, tile and inspecting the water damage for mold. The Kincaids would have to move out.
Before they did, something special happened.

The next morning, as Ed cleaned up his front yard, a stranger with New York license plates parked his truck in front of his yard.

"I saw a few businesses on main roads where many would see this flag. But, while driving through the devastation, I noticed the Kincaids' roof in the distance," Mr. LoBaido said. "I said to myself, 'it belongs there.'"

The two men talked. Mr. LoBaido explained his mission -- for the past 22 years, he's painted versions of the American flag, his favorite work of art, in areas that have been hit by tragedy -- regardless if it was caused by humans or Mother Nature. Mr. LoBaido asked to paint a flag on the Kincaids' roof.

"It's a gift to help folks rebuild, come together and be resilient," Mr. LoBaido said. "Old Glory is the greatest, most beautiful, meaningful, and most recognized work of art in the world. I have been painting flags where they are most needed -- whether it's a town that lost a hero in war, or a town that's been hit with a tragic disaster like Moore."

Ed said yes and gave Mr. LoBaido permission to paint a flag on his roof.

Mr. LoBaido went to work, often catching the attention of those around him who stopped to watch the action. The following afternoon, Mr. LoBaido finished his project.

"It was a big hit in our neighborhood and many who work or drive by stop to take pictures," Ed said. "My wife and I have met many other survivors from nearby and we shared stories. It has been a big morale booster -- it was awesome that our roof was to be 'the roof.'"

The flag garnered much attention, including a television segment by a local news station.

"I drove by it with my mom," said Joe Tardibono, Ed's trainee within the AFSC/EN. "It was pretty cool."

Roughly 10 days later, the flag was disassembled and the Kincaids' roof was replaced. Ed said he was able to save a section of stars and intends to frame them.
While there is little proof of Mr. LoBaido's work, the memory and experience remain.
Mr. LoBaido said people remember this time and see the bigger picture.

"This comes from the heart," he said. "I could be a very wealthy celebrity artist, but I followed my heart. I get paid when a veteran, Gold-Star mom, or the victim of a disaster comes up to me and emotionally thanks me because I brought hope and inspiration to their despair."

The Kincaids have also talked about investing in a storm shelter.