5704 in-depth character profiles from comics, games, movies

Rick Flag Sr. (Suicide Squad of World War 2) (DC Comics) (War that Time Forgot)

Richard Montgomery Flag aka Rick Flag, Sr.


Power Level:
Game system: DC Heroes Role-Playing Game
  • This profile should be read after perusing our big Suicide Squad profiles – particularly the wartime Suicide Squadron one, which provides indispensable context.

Background

  • Real Name: Captain Richard Montgomery Flag (eventually Colonel Flag)
  • Other Aliases: “Captain Kill”
  • Marital Status: Single, later Married, later Widowed
  • Known Relatives: Depending on the specific continuity : Sharon Race Flag (wife, deceased), Richard Rogers Flag (aka Rick Flag, Jr., son), Peter Flag (brother, deceased), and a grandson
  • Group Affiliation: U.S. military – presumably the Navy. Multiple versions of the Suicide Squadron and the Suicide Squad ; Task Force X
  • Base Of Operations: Southern Pacific war theatre
  • Height: 5’11” Weight: 172 lbs.
  • Eyes: Blue Hair: Brown


Warning !

This profile is unusual. Normal writeups.org policy for published characters is to stick to the facts, and clearly label any speculation as being hypotheticals. Such speculation is normally limited to continuity issues that might cause problems if the character is used in a RPG campaign.

This general policy is in effect here – but it’s running on fumes. We know about the character and his role, we know which stories the writer refers to, and that’s about it. We have to guess how non-continuity, non-DCU stories would have been retconned to fit into Mr. Ostrander’s Suicide Squad backstory.

We have the bits, some nails and a hammer but no clear idea of how it’s supposed to be built inside. Some bits require a lot of banging on so they will fit in, and we’re not certain they’re supposed to go in there in the first place. The material is way, way more speculative than our normal fare.

Likewise the stats are stock stats for the archetype – which is fine, Flag is meant to be an archetype anyway.

This profile assumes the use of the timeline proposed by writeups.org for the first two versions of the Suicide Squad. This changes the date at which some events occur compared to Secret Origins v2 #14, but not the events themselves – see the extensive timeline discussion in our article about the Mission X version of the Suicide Squad.


Powers and Abilities

Rick Flag is a cow-boy-like American ace pilot, war hero and two-fisted troubleshooter. He’s extraordinarily versatile and demonstrated superior skill as a pilot (competent with fighters, bombers, transport planes…), sailor, small-boat commander, brawler, infantry commando, airborne trooper, etc.

Flag is extremely determined, and as his experience grew he became essentially inured to fear.

He has a far higher Hero Points total than anybody else. This reflects both his amazing ability to survive in one piece missions that killed dozens if not hundred of highly skilled soldiers around him, and his greater-than-life vibe.

The fearless, astonishingly assured Flag came across as the hero of a 1930s war movie starring Errol Flynn who accidentally ended up in the real world. He seemed aware that he enjoyed a significant degree of narrative immunity.

The ultimate DI ?

The soldiers trained by Rick Flag usually learned their trade in record time and with a high degree of competence.

He turned a rag-tag band of headcases into a US Army Rangers unit in less than a year, and didn’t stop there – many Suicide Squadron men became qualified to operate an extraordinary number of vehicles and weapon systems, the best troopers being at once elite infantry, tankers, sailors and pilots just like Flag himself.

The same phenomenon took place in the 1950s when Flag built up the Task Force X version of the Suicide Squadron, turning headcases and burnouts into elite soldiers, pilots, etc. in a fraction of the time it would normally take to learn one such military speciality.

This phenomenon probably wasn’t intended by authors, but is striking when researching the stories and fitting them into a rough timeline.

In game terms this is denoted by a Scholar, but the training of Flag’s Suicide Squadron was so extraordinary that a case can be made for Flag having some sort of power. Perhaps he can somehow ’leak‘ his mindset and skills to the persons he trains, imprinting them with his own essence.

That the Task Force X version of the Suicide Squadron apparently completely collapsed right after Flag died does lend credence to the suspicions that something unusual was going on – perhaps all men trained by Flag suddenly lost their skills and/or their extraordinary drive when he died.

At some points it seemed that the more people died around Flag, the more unstoppable he became.


History

(Again, we are assuming the use of our suggested timeline, since reviewing possible versions of the facts in each of the six known timelines and with very little documentation would be a mess.)

It is likely that Richard M. Flag was born circa 1911 and met Sharon Race, his future wife, as they were both teenagers. Mr. Flag and Miss Race had a son, also named Richard, circa 1930 – though atypically for the times they married about fifteen years later.

Little is known about R.M. Flag’s early life, but given the incredible breadth of his soldierly skills it seems likely that he was from a family traditionally serving in the US military and enlisted as soon as possible.

His brother Peter, who seemed slightly older, also served in the US Navy – and Miss Race was a cousin of one of Flag’s friends, J.E.B. Stuart, who also became a war hero.

Richard M. Flag’s branch was never specified. Though he was probably a Naval aviator, it is historically plausible that he was a US Marines Corps Aviation fighter pilot. Presumably he studied at Annapolis for three years at his majority – and thus roughly from 1932 to 1935.

When he graduated, the US Navy was deploying a new generation of ultra-modern torpedo bombers, the XTBD Devastators. LT Flag became a Devastator pilot, and some years later a TBF Avenger pilot.

Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead

During World War Two, Flag served in the Pacific. Torpedo bombers – whether Devastators or Avengers – initially were disappointing, failing repeatedly in their objectives and far too vulnerable against Imperial Japanese fighters. Better techniques and experience eventually fixed the situation, and LT Flag undoubtedly played a role in this process.

At this point a life-changing event occurred – perhaps in late 1942 or early 1943. Flag was presumably a Lieutenant-Commander by then.

While on patrol, his TBF squadron chanced upon an under-protected Imperial Japanese aircraft carrier. Flag decided to attack, considering that a decent chance at damaging a flat-top was worth their lives. As expected, the diving squadron was torn apart by Imperial flak.

However, their sacrifice allowed the last Avenger left to get close enough, and LCDR Flag scored a direct hit with his 2,000 pounds torpedo. During the whole attack, Flag heard his pilots urging him to carry on in their stead as they were shot one by one.

Shaken by the incident, he became an unusually determined fighting man, inured to fear and unhesitatingly taking great risks – a behaviour some considered a death wish.

(In the timeline used in Secret Origins v2 #14, Flag is much younger — perhaps as young as 17 — and is put at the back of the formation by his squadron leader to improve his odds of surviving the attack). 

Death of Peter Flag

It was presumably in 1943 that one of the submarines lost near Dinosaur Island was found by Navy men, crushed and torn by a gigantic monster. The fearless CDR Richard Flag was detailed to sail a PT Boat retracing the route of the lost submarine, while his brother CDR Peter Flag retraced the same route under the surface.

Presumably, some senior Navy officers didn’t believe the incredible USMC and US Army reports about Dinosaur Island, and assumed that the problem was some sort of Japanese anti-sub weapon – which they wanted found and destroyed.

Black and white photo of Captain Flag and his Suicide Squad

The sub suffered the same fate as its predecessor, thrashed and sunk by an absurdly huge, amphibious, tyrannosaurus-shaped beast. Rick Flag and his PT crew narrowly managed to kill the thing, but ended up in a lake on Dinosaur Island and had to fight their way back to the ocean as they sailed down a river.

They killed a sort of immense chimpanzee, then dodged a number of gargantuan crocodiles but were finally sunk by a monstrous pterosaur.

Flag avenged his brother and both crews by manually steering the last torpedo and using it to kill both the pterosaur and a sort of mega-mosasaur that had finished off his brother’s submarine.

After Flag’s report, the Navy carpet-bombed the monsters-saturated area. Though they were satisfied that they had solved the giant monsters issue, the bombardment actually had little lasting effect.

(The published adventure happened to generic characters Petey March the PT Captain, who looks like Rick Flag, and his brother Nick. We swapped the first names since Nick is closer to Rick. In the original version the submarine-commanding brother somehow survives. This story is the sole source behind our description of Rick Flag, Sr. having a brother – it was also kept since brothers serving together is a constant theme of War That Time Forgot stories.).

The white ape

CDR Flag was later tapped to insert a Navy observer on Dinosaur Island – a volunteer who agreed to report about enemy movement at great risk to himself. This soldier was a drafted academic, presumably an anthropologist, who was willing to take the risk in order to study extraordinary cave paintings on the island. He was particularly interested in art featuring a colossal white gorilla protecting cave persons from dinosaurs.

(The published adventure has the professor being familiar with the island from before the war. In a tighter continuity this becomes impossible, but the man could be the same person as a US Army Ranger also nicknamed “the Professor”. Jesse “the Professor” was part of the earliest documented Ranger Mission X – the code name for missions to Dinosaur Island – and might have briefly observed the cave paintings during this deployment. If so, the men sent on the first Mission X likely weren’t officially Rangers yet since their units were still in training.)

Flag and his new PT crew again frantically fought off numerous dinosaurs as they navigated a Dinosaur Island river ; they also saved the crew of another PT boat that had accidentally ended up on the Island after a storm.

The observer found more paintings depicting the benevolent giant gorilla – and when Flag and his crew ended up boxed into a cavern, they met with the beast.

The gigantic primate, taller than even a giant dinosaur, fought the reptiles off with the help of the American troops and the mission was successful. Unfortunately, the alabaster-haired ape was fatally wounded in the fray.

Though this was not chronicled, it would seem that Flag returned to Dinosaur Island to pick the observer up, then helped the academic set up another camouflaged observation post. This one was right on an island occupied by Imperial Japanese forces, not too far away from the Mission X perimeter.

Flag and the Professor provided excellent intelligence, but CDR Flag wanted to return to Dinosaur Island as he felt that he owed the gargantuan gorilla a debt.

This did happen, albeit accidentally – as Flag and the Professor were being flown out of the Japanese-held island in a glider, the tether was cut by attacking pterosaurs and they had to crash on Dinosaur Island. The two men confirmed that the ape who had helped them had died, but after repelling a number of dinosaur attacks were rescued by an identical giant white gorilla.

Killing some dinosaurs along the way, the immense primate returned the Americans to their glider, cleared the sky of a flock of angry pterosaurs, and hurled the glider into the sky so they could fly home. On their way, Flag and the Professor spotted a fleet of Imperial Japanese bombers, making it possible for US forces to intercept those.

(In the published stories, these two adventures happened to a generic PT captain looking very much like Rick Flag).

A new command

More subs were lost in the Dinosaur Island area, and a new two-pronged approach was tried – this time a submarine would be backed by a B26 Marauder bomber piloted by Flag. A sailor who had been a friend of Peter Flag volunteered his submarine.

The sub was attacked by a mega-fish, but the B26 was simultaneously attacked by numerous mega-pterosaurs and couldn’t help.

Flag and his elite crew were forced to abandon the bomber and parachute on Dinosaur Island. Using lifeboats and a stock of bombs tied to floating logs, they came to the rescue of the beleaguered sub and killed off the beast attacking it.

Almost everybody made it out alive, though they had made but a small dent in the number of local animals capable of destroying a military submarine.

(In the published story, the Rick-Flag-looking protagonist is a pilot called Nick and the submarine commander is his brother Jim. It was quite common for Kanigher to write basically the same story as before but change one or two elements.)

Captain Flag and his Suicide Squad with a captured German vehicle

By that point, the rag-tag Squadron S of the US Army – also known as the Suicide Squadron – was presumably already stationed on Dinosaur Island. It wasn’t going well at all, and the casualty rate was terrible.

A General decided to turn the Squadron around, and wanted to have Flag take charge of the Squadron S lamentable, undisciplined troops and turn them into real soldiers. CPT Flag soon returned to Dinosaur Island to take this command.

(Since Flag was apparently Navy and Squadron S was apparently Army, the decision was presumably taken at the Combined Chiefs of Staff level after a General shoved this into some meeting’s agenda. It is presumably at that point that CPT Flag was transferred to the US Army – since by the next time his rank is mentioned he’s a Colonel.)

As chronicled in our Suicide Squadron article, CPT Flag turned the Suicide Squadron around in an incredibly short time, transmogrifying half-psychotic rabble into an elite group of men with impossibly broad qualifications. The Squadron was soon considered a Rangers unit and were reputedly able to pilot any sea, air or land military vehicle.

CPT Flag also started hand-picking men from the Suicide Squadron to form his personal commando unit, leading them on raids worldwide. One such raid took place in Qurac to attack the Nazi installations of Jotunheim.

The operation was successful and achieved important objectives – most notably denying the Nazis a prototype atomic bomb built in the fortress.

(If using elements from the New Frontier continuity, Flag spends the final weeks of the war and some weeks after that stranded on Dinosaur Island after a plane crash and losing every last member of his commando squad. He’s eventually recovered by American special operation troops, and the Nazi documents he delivers become an important asset for the US space program.)

Death of Mrs. Flag, and Korea

Soon after returning to the US Rick Flag married Sharon Race. Unfortunately, Mrs. Flag died weeks later when she saved her teenaged son from an out-of-control car.

This death devastated both Mr. Flag and his son. Something broke within LTC Flag when he heard the news ; from then on and until his death he came across as empty and soul-less.

The Squad was re-formed a few years later for the Korean War – as noted in our Suicide Squadron article, it may have been mobilised a dozen days before the 25 of June invasion based on just-received intelligence.

The Korea version of the Squad was apparently an actual squad — that is, about ten men — performing airborne infantry raids against strategic objectives. It was active from June of 1950 to, presumably, early 1952.

During the Korean operations Flag was a Captain again – presumably he left the military for a time after the death of his wife and later reenlisted with a lower rank. By 1952 he was already a Colonel, though.

The one documented operation of Flag’s Suicide Squad during that time was to parachute in to rally American troops who had been cut off when Chinese troops crossed the Yalu, and lead them to safety through Korean wilderness. The mission was apparently successful and the Squad got most of the soldiers out of the death-trap.

One of those was a young trooper named Jess Bright, who would later join a version of the Suicide Squad led by Flag’s son.

Task Force X

At that point, Col. Flag was picked by Gen. J.E.B. Stuart to head a new version of the Suicide Squadron, as part of President Truman’s newly-created Task Force X.

Like Flag’s wartime Squadron, the new Suicide Squad would be an elite force of desperate men with amazing military qualifications taking on giant monsters and similar menaces, no matter how dire the risks – on foot, in tanks, in the air, over the sea or under the waves.

From what can be pieced together, Flag trained and led wave after wave of crazies and men with nothing left to lose against numerous 1950s Atomic Horror menaces, giant robots, space aliens, powerful super-villains, the military of hidden civilisations, etc. The casualty rate was horrendous, but the Squadron was apparently generally successful in defending America.

The War Wheel vs. the Suicide Squad

In – presumably – 1956, a new version of the World War Two weapon of mass destruction called the War Wheel was built by unrevealed parties. Crushing everything in its path, the immense wheel shrugged off even the most determined air assaults by the heavily-armed F-86 Sabre fighters of the Suicide Squadron.

It became clear that only nuclear weaponry would have a chance against the juggernaut, but the Wheel was rolling through urban areas and an atomic strike would have catastrophic collateral effects.

Experiencing a traumatic flashback about the loss of his TBF squadron in 1942 and the death of his wife, Col. Flag spotted a weak point in the War Wheel and crashed his Sabre right into it, knocking the Wheel down and putting an end to its path of destruction.

Though reports established that the Colonel could have ejected in time, he had chosen an heroic death.


Description

In two of the flashbacks written by Ostrander circa 1990, Rick Flag is very reminiscent of Brad Pitt as Lt. Aldo Raine in Quentin Tarantino’s Inglorious Basterds 2009 film. We took the liberty of throwing in relevant photos.


Personality

Flag is harsh, haunted, and gradually became fearless. At first he still had to overcome his fear and nervousness when faced with extraordinary danger, but then was slowly burned away until all he was left with was a sort of amused, cavalier contempt toward danger.

Flag only cared about results, and didn’t give a damn about procedures – or the toll that achieving his objectives took. All he wanted to know from the teams returning to base is whether the mission had been accomplished – details would be handled by military intelligence officers.

At points he came across more like a Mongol warlord than a proper military commander.


Quotes

“Out of shells and belts, maybe ! But we’ve still got a couple of punches left ! Ready all torpedoes !”

(Addressing the Suicide Squadron for the first time after beating up a rogue soldier) “You listen to me. All of you. Out there, good men are dying so scum like you can have a chance. You don’t deserve it. But you will. Starting now, you will look like a unit, you will act like a unit, you will fight like a unit, and only with the enemy ! You’re back in the Army now ! Or, so help me, I’ll put you in the graves myself ! Understand ?!”

“Relax, kid. You’ll foul your foxhole. Captain Richard Montgomery Flag’s the name, and I’m more or less on your side.”


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Game Stats — DC Heroes RPG Print Friendly

Tell me more about the game stats

Rick Flag I

Dex: 06 Str: 04 Bod: 04 Motivation: Responsibility
Int: 07 Wil: 06 Min: 06 Occupation: Captain
Inf: 06 Aur: 05 Spi: 06 Resources {or Wealth}: 004
Init: 021 HP: 055

Skills:
Martial artist: 05, Military science: 07, Thief (Stealth): 05, Vehicles: 06, Weaponry: 07

Advantages:
Scholar (Military equipment and protocols, Military training and instruction), Iron Nerves, Leadership, Rank (Captain)

Connections:
US Armed Forces (Pacific Theatre, Low)

Drawbacks:
None demonstrated

Equipment:

  • Colt .45 M1911A1 [BODY 04, Projectile weapon: 04, Ammo: 07, R#03]
  • Thompson M1 Submachinegun [BODY 04, Projectile weapons: 05, Ammo: 07, R#02, Advantage : Autofire] with four or five extra magazines.
  • Defensive grenades (x8) [BODY 01, Bomb: 08, R#03, Grenade drawback]

By Sébastien Andrivet

Source of Character: DC Universe… in a very loose sense. See the “Warning !” section.

Helper(s): Frank Murdock

Writeup completed on the 2nd of October, 2011.

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