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Ceremonies honor veterans

November 12, 2004

WASHINGTON COUNTY - While many memories of military service are unpleasant, there were some lighter moments shared Thursday at the annual Veterans Day program at Homewood at Williamsport.

"My only wound was when a 100-pound shell fell on my big toe," said Merill Barnes, who served with Gen. George Patton's Third Army during World War II. "You don't get a Purple Heart for that."

Barnes was one of approximately 30 veterans and their spouses who attended a luncheon, spoke of their experiences and watched a videotape of the opening ceremony of the World War II memorial in Washington, D.C.

Many other Veterans Day ceremonies were held across Washington County.

Clear Spring High School


Hanging on the wall behind the stage in the Clear Spring High School auditorium was an American flag that had draped the coffin of Thomas Richard McCammon, a veteran who died during the D-Day invasion in 1944.

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His brother, Donald McCammon, was a teacher and assistant principal at Clear Spring High School for years, according to James Hutson, a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps who spoke at the Veterans Day program at the school.

"I thought it was a nice gesture, since the flag otherwise is just kept in mothballs," said Donald McCammon, who attended the ceremony.

Students mingled with dozens of veterans and their spouses who came to hear David Winpigler, past post commander of the American Legion of Maryland, and James "Tim" Huffman, U.S. Air Force, speak about the significance of remembering veterans and their sacrifices for freedom.

Hagerstown


About 200 people attended the annual Veterans Day program in front of the Washington County Courthouse in Hagerstown. The program was sponsored by Morris Frock Unit No. 42, American Legion Auxiliary.

More than 20 area veterans organizations turned out to lay wreaths in front of the courthouse in honor of fallen soldiers.

Keynote speaker Douglas Tait quoted the words of former presidents John F. Kennedy and Abraham Lincoln as he praised veterans and members of the military currently fighting in Iraq.

"We rarely hear about the heroes, the incredibly brave soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen who serve with honor and valor," said Tait, who was a U.S. Army pilot Vietnam.

Fort Ritchie


World War II veteran Fred Wishard unveiled a plaque at the former Fort Ritchie U.S. Army base during a ceremony there.

The plaque, which sits atop a stone pedestal behind the PenMar Development Corp. headquarters, is a permanent marker for Memorial Forest. The forest consists of 40 acres of trees around the Edgemont Reservoir near Smithsburg.

The wooded area was dedicated to WWII veterans from Washington County on April 21, 1945, but no monument or marker was placed there.

Wishard accepted the 1945 dedication of Memorial Forest on behalf of the county's approximately 7,900 WWII service men and women.

"It's finally come to a conclusion," Wishard told the crowd that gathered at the former base for the plaque's unveiling.

The forest is about 4.5 miles southwest of Fort Ritchie.

"It's a beautiful plaque," Wishard said. "God bless Washington County, and God bless America."

Smithsburg


The Brown family was shocked in May when, while attending a Smithsburg Memorial Day observance, they realized that the name of a relative who died in a World War II battle was not on the town's memorial.

On Thursday, Smithsburg native Harry Brown's name was on the memorial for the first time during an observance.

Dozens of Smithsburg residents and guests attended the town's annual Veterans Day ceremony. For the first time during the annual November observance, several members of the Brown family also were in attendance.

"I thought it was very nice," said Betty Lou Hammon, Brown's daughter, who was 2 years old when her father died. "I don't know how he got forgotten."

Carlo Bellella, chairman of the town's Parks Commission, said no one in town was aware of the omission until family members pointed it out in May. Bellella said it was the second time the memorial, donated by AMVETS Post 14, has been recast.

Reporters Tara Reilly, Wanda Williams, Brian Shappell and Marlo Barnhart contributed to this story.

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