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Smithsburg's full measure

May 31, 2007|by ANDREW SCHOTZ

SMITHSBURG - Names on a stone were recalled Wednesday as friends, relatives and veterans, all with something in common: They died at war.

Leonard N. Gish and Allen S. Hartman from World War II.

Richard R. Beard and Kenneth Smith from the Korean War.

Ronald Lee Sanbower from the Vietnam War.

This year's Memorial Day ceremony at Smithsburg's Veterans Park was a chance to remember casualties of war - specifically, rather than as a group.

In some cases, family members said a few words about those who died many years before.

After each name was called, a rose was placed in front of a memorial stone devoted to Smithsburg-area veterans who died in three wars: 10 in World War II, three in Korea and one in Vietnam.

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"These people marched off to war, right from this area," guest speaker Glenn Fishack said.

A separate plaque lists many others who served in World War I, but it's not clear who among them died in battle, said Fishack, who served with the U.S. Army and retired as a U.S. Army Reserves master sergeant.

Solemn recognition is necessary at least once a year, Mayor Mildred "Mickey" Myers said during Wednesday's ceremony. "Our fallen heroes deserve more than a brief moment of honor," she said.

Among them were Arthur and Robert Hessong, who died in World War II.

Six Hessong brothers served during the war, said Paul Hessong, 77, the youngest of nine brothers.

The Hessongs grew up working hard on a farm. "Nobody had anything then," he said.

Robert was killed in Normandy, not long after the D-Day landing in June 1944, Paul Hessong said.

Arthur was killed in Italy about two months later.

Paul Hessong remembers the sadness of hearing of his brothers' deaths when he was about 14 years old, with no details.

Four other Hessong brothers survived the war: James, in the Navy; Joseph, in the Army; Parker, a paratrooper; and Charles, in the Army.

Ronald Sanbower was 20 when he was killed in Vietnam in April 1971, said Nancy Brown, one of his sisters.

"I was at my home," she said. "My daddy came out and told me he had gotten word."

Brown said her brother was a helicopter mechanic who once thought about working on airplanes as a career.

Donald Brown, Nancy's husband, said Sanbower liked to hunt deer and rabbits.

After graduating from Smithsburg High School, Sanbower worked as a carpenter, Nancy Brown said.

Then, he was sent off to war. His reaction, she said, was "like most kids who don't want to go. You don't have much choice when you're drafted."

Nancy Brown called remembrance ceremonies like Wednesday's both helpful and painful. "It still hurts when you stop to think about it after all these years," she said.

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