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Ritchie's artifacts carted away

August 20, 1998

Ritchie's relics carted offBy BRENDAN KIRBY / Staff Writer

photos: KEVIN G. GILBERT / staff photographer




FORT RITCHIE - The Maryland National Guard recovered part of its history Wednesday, taking about 500 artifacts from Fort Ritchie that date back to the base's days as a National Guard training camp.

"It's a happy day for the National Guard to recapture part of our history," said National Guard Col. Howard S. Freedlander during a ceremony in which the Army signed over the items.

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The items, about 500 out of a total of 1,500 relics in the base museum, include uniforms, old photos, field manuals, equipment and a 300-pound, oak switchboard from the 1930s.

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German Luftwaffe uniformsThe artifacts will be housed temporarily in Baltimore. Eventually, the National Guard plans to display them in an old mansion north of Reisterstown, Md.

U.S. Rep. Roscoe G. Bartlett, R-Md., said he was happy the historical items will be in good hands. But he expressed sadness that the base is soon to be closed.

"I guess I'm pleased to be here. I hate to see the final closing for Ritchie," he said. "I fought very hard to keep this base open. I thought the argument I advanced was rather compelling."

Bartlett's unsuccessful argument was that it was important for support staff to be able to quickly reach the underground Pentagon in nearby Pennsylvania.

The Center for Military History divided up the 1,500 military artifacts, deciding which should go to the Guard, said Army spokeswoman Kathy Fotheringham. The rest will be sent to bases in other parts of the country.

A small number of items will remain on the base in the possession of the PenMar Development Corp., which will take over the property when the Army leaves Oct. 1.

The artifacts that the National Guard is taking represent the history of the base when it was a training facility for the Guard from 1927 to 1941 and again from 1948 to 1951.

Lt. Gen. James F. Fretterd, the adjutant general of the Maryland National Guard, said the mementos will help officer candidates research the guard's history as well as serve as a reminder to the public.

"It bothers me terribly - I don't want to give a speech here - you try to find military history in our colleges and universities today," he said.

Fretterd said he received a call several months ago from former U.S. Rep. Beverly Byron telling him the Guard should take possession of a portrait of former governor Albert Ritchie.

Fretterd said he later learned of the hundreds of other artifacts.

"This is just priceless to the Maryland National Guard," he said.

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