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Memorial honors local war hero

May 13, 2003|by MARLO BARNHART

marlob@herald-mail.com

CLEAR SPRING - Through the efforts of a determined American Legion post, a few businesses and individuals, a new memorial to the man believed to be the first Maryland military member to die in World War II will be dedicated during a May 25 ceremony.

Joseph C. Herbert Post 222 of the American Legion in Clear Spring was named for the hometown hero who died during the attack on Pearl Harbor in the service of his country. He was buried in Little Rose Hill Cemetery east of Clear Spring.

"His grave has been marked by a traditional brass veteran's marker which gives his name, his branch of service and rank, along with his dates of birth and death," said Post Commander Ken Snyder, who has led the efforts to upgrade the memorial.

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Every year, the members of the post, the auxiliary and the squadron hold wreath-laying ceremonies at the Herbert grave site. This year, the new memorial will be unveiled during an 11 a.m. ceremony.

The new memorial was purchased from Hammaker and Darner Monument and Bronze Co. in Hagerstown and installed by that firm earlier in May.

"Through a fund-raising effort, the post has purchased a new veteran's memorial for Joe," Snyder said. "The new memorial not only gives his normal military information but we also had it engraved about him being the first Marylander to die in World War II."

Herbert grew up in Clear Spring, attending school there and St. John's United Church of Christ on Cumberland Street. Herbert joined the U.S. Army after high school and was assigned to Schofield Barracks in Hawaii, Snyder said.

On Dec. 7, 1941, Herbert was killed in the initial Japanese attack of the military facilities on Oahu.

Longtime post member Dave Witmer said he, too, had been working toward the project in recent years but it stalled when funds were slow coming in.

Snyder, who served in the U.S. Army for 24 years, said the idea for the upgraded memorial really began in earnest at a 2001 Veterans Day event.

"We started by passing a hat and then a letter went out to all the Legion members," Snyder said. "I was determined it was going to be done."

More than a dozen individuals contributed, as did Wilson Ruritan, Clear Spring District Historical Association, Washington County Council of the American Legion, Clear Spring Pharmacy, Ernst Market, St. John's United Church of Christ, the Ralph S. Tagg Disabled American Veterans and the Redmen Tribe 184 in Williamsport, Snyder said.

The fund-raising effort overshot the goal. Snyder said what was left over will be used for items such as memorial Bibles for the families of veterans and flags on veterans' grave sites.

Witmer said once the new memorial is installed, the one it replaces should be provided to the remaining Herbert family, which he said includes a sister.

"We had a duplicate made for display in our Legion home," he said.

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