The Legend of Tommy O’Toole – Not My Flag, Not On My Watch

I did this oil painting (30 X 40 inches)  in the early ’90’s, using the New York Daily News front page as reference. The full story on O’Toole and my experience (see headboards on front page of The Hawks Perch, above).

Ex-Marine Sgt.Thomas O’Toole was a NY Supreme Court officer when he saw demonstrators across the plazas where he worked, setting fire to the American flag. He had just returned from open heart surgery, but ran down three flights of steps, across the plazas at downtown Brooklyn’s courts, and put out the flames with his bare hands.This painting was exhibited at the FBI Academy in Quantico, Virginia in 1994, and became the centerpiece of a traveling Law Enforcement Action Paintings, a series of fifteen oil paintings I did while working on designing and sculpting the memorial to slain police officers of New York.

Full Color, Signed Posters are still available for $35 each (handling, shipping and tax is included in that price), though there are not many left.The poster, including the two inch white border, measures  19 X 25 inches.

If you’re interested in purchasing one or more, please email me,


4 thoughts on “NOT MY FLAG!

    • You are lucky to have had such a remarkable man in your life!
      How very touching that you found this and thought to write.
      I have had the good fortune to be in touch with some of your family over the years. The Legend of Tommy O’Toole is my most famous painting.
      If you’d like to talk further please don’t hesitate to write,
      Best warm wishes, Kristen,

  1. Love the story and how you captured a news event in art. This is how art occurred before photography and cell phone cameras. An artist painted their impression of the event and time. I also like the comparison of the original and the reproductions. We do art repro’s where I work and I’m always taking a photo (with permission of course) as a representative of the true colors.

    P.S. Just as an aside, there are no such thing as ex-Marines, only retired Marines. But as many have pointed out to me, once a Marine, always a Marine, and that is what this Marine was doing. Defending his country’s honor.

    Wonderful painting!

    • Lovely to hear from you, and thank you for your wonderful comments and observations. That’s probably my most famous painting, and yes it’s what painters used to be inclined to do. It was, and remains, a thoroughly remarkable highlight in my life, every single part of it from the first inspiration, all the traveling it’s done, to your words today. It’s all over the world now in poster form, hundreds of police precincts, attorney and judge’s offices, private homes, and an armload of celebrities including John Walsh and the guy who did Hill Street Blues, etc; Sylvester Stallone, all of it makes me very proud. Thanks again, and bravo for the lovely young men you raised, bless you all for your service to our country.

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