World War II veterans named Mummers' grand marshals

October 13, 2004|by TAMELA BAKER

HAGERSTOWN - Sixty years ago, they invaded Europe.

This month, they'll ride into downtown Hagerstown on Humvees as grand marshals of the 80th annual Alsatia Mummers' Parade.

Organizers have chosen a group of World War II veterans to lead the parade, according to Alsatia Club President James McCleaf II.

The group includes local veterans as well as members of the 101st Airborne Company E, the famed "Easy Company" of the "Band of Brothers" book and miniseries.

Forrest Guth of Hockessin, Del., and Clancy Lyall of Lexington Park, Md., both served in the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 101st Airborne and were featured in the book, written by historian Stephen Ambrose, McCleaf said. Guth was featured in the miniseries, which was produced for HBO by Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks.


Also serving will be Guy Whidden, who was assigned to the 502nd Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 101st Airborne and was one of the first to fly into Normandy on D-Day in 1944.

Whidden, formerly of Hagerstown, lives in Frederick, Md.

Another Frederick veteran, Meyer Chertoff, joined the 101st Airborne after D-Day as an interrogator. Among his subjects was Lucie Rommel, widow of Nazi Field Marshal Erwin Rommel, the famed "Desert Fox" of the Africa campaign.

Hagerstown veteran Fred Wishard, who was assigned to the 17th Airborne and was wounded and captured in the Battle of the Bulge, will serve as well.

McCleaf said organizers probably will add a few more to the list by the parade date, Oct. 30.

The veterans were recruited by Greg Henesy of Hagerstown, a Maryland State Police trooper and member of the 101st Airborne Living History Association. Although at 32 Henesy is less than half the age of his veteran friends, he got involved in the association through his love of history, he said. He contacted the Alsatia Club hoping to secure a spot for the group to march in the parade.

Club Secretary Marvin House contacted Henesy "and asked if one of them would be grand marshal," Henesy said. Henesy asked if all the veterans could share the title.

McCleaf said fund-raising for the parade is going well, and that he expects nearly 200 marching units for this year's event.

"We've got a lot of things on the go," he said. "It'll be one of our best parades."

During a recent visit to Hagerstown, baseball star Willie Mays said he would be willing to serve as grand marshal for a future parade. McCleaf said he's invited Mays to serve next year.

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