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Local veterans honored in Washington County

November 30, 1999|By ERIN JULIUS

Veterans solemnly saluted the American flag Saturday morning before laying wreaths at the memorial to veterans in front of the Washington County Courthouse.

This year's Veterans Day ceremony was held especially to remember World War II veterans, said Marilyn Hembrock, an organizer with the American Legion.

Four World War II veterans spoke to the crowd that gathered for the ceremony.

Charles Fishack called himself a "landlocked sailor" who worked at Fairchild Aircraft before he was called to serve in the Navy during WWII.

He was "never too fond of guns," and did not serve overseas during the war, but is proud of the "small service" he gave his country, Fishack said.

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Don Horine, of Hagerstown, dressed all in white wearing a satin "Flying Horsemen" jacket. Despite having suffered a stroke, Horine stood ramrod-straight with his fellow veterans.

Horine flew 37 missions with the 717 bomb squad of the 449th Brigade during the war. He later spent 42 years with the Air National Guard, said Mary Vanscoy, Horine's daughter.

Another veteran present for the ceremony saw WWII from the other side. Dieter H.B. Protsch was born in Heidelberg, Germany, and served in the German army before he was captured by Russian soldiers.

He immigrated to the United States in June 1956, and served 20 years in the Army before retiring as a major and writing his memoirs, "Be All You Can Be."

Protsch still returns to Germany to visit wounded American soldiers in a military hospital.

Jeff Pearce spent eight years in the Army, and served abroad in the Panama conflict. He, too, wanted to remember the WWII veterans who "saved the world."

"It's really their day," Pearce said. "They just did so much."

Across town, about 50 people gathered at the Medal of Honor Triangle that commemorates William Othello Wilson, a Hagerstown native and Buffalo Soldier .

Wilson received the Medal of Honor in 1891 for braving hostile Indians in South Dakota to get help for a wagon train under siege.

The NAACP and United Auto Workers Local 171 lobbied the Hagerstown City Council to have responsibility for the Medal of Honor Triangle, said Edward Davis of the UAW, an Army veteran of the Korean War.

It's important to maintain the triangle because it is a focal point on Jonathan Street, Davis said.

Jack Berkson stopped by to pay his respects to the Medal of Honor winner, he said. Berkson served in WWII and the Korean War, and was in the Navy's Judge Advocate General's Corps.

Charles McCloud also wanted to honor Wilson. He served in the 555th Parachute Infantry Battalion, and was one of the first black paratroopers, he said.

McCloud also was one of the first black men integrated into the military. The 555th joined the 82nd Airborne Division, he said.

Other Veterans Day events were held around Washington County. Wreaths were laid near the monument on Memorial Boulevard near Rose Hill Cemetery; Antietam Unit 236 of the American Legion Auxiliary hosted a wreath-laying ceremony in the town square in Sharpsburg; and a ceremony was held at Veterans Park in Smithsburg.

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