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Plaque atop sign honors fallen brother

June 04, 2007|by MARLO BARNHART

KEEDYSVILLE - Edna Huntzberry Heffner was 15 years old and a member of the Victory Corps at her high school in Frederick, Md., when her brother, Richard W. Huntzberry, shipped out in 1943 for service in World War II.

"I felt I had to be there. I remember thinking I'd never see him again," she said. "And I didn't."

Her brother was killed in action in Italy in September 1944.

Despite a sizeable age difference, Heffner said she and her brother were very close. "I remember he sent me $8 while he was overseas so I could get my class ring," she said.

Now, some 63 years after his death, Heffner is committed to keeping his memory and accomplishments part of a living history for future generations in Washington County.

One part of that effort is a memorial plaque that bears her brother's name that was erected in April over the Downsville Pike/Oak Ridge Drive sign.

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Similar plaques have been posted elsewhere in Washington County for John W. Wagner, a Clear Spring resident who served in the Civil War; and Seth Lathrop Weld of Sandy Hook, who saw action during the Spanish-American War and World War I.

Wagner and Weld earned the Medal of Honor, according to Peter Callas, a local veteran and historian.

Among the Huntzberry family memorabilia are Heffner's brother's medals that have been preserved under glass in a striking frame.

She also has a letter that he wrote to his mother, the Western Union telegram announcing his January 1944 wounding and the letter from Huntzberry's commanding officer about his death nine months later.

"He was buried in Europe but my dad wasn't going to let him stay on foreign soil," Heffner recalled. The body was returned and reburied in Williamsport.

Heffner said her beloved brother could have been deferred from military service because he was working on a farm on Downsville Pike when World War II began. But he wanted to do his part, she said.

"That's why the sign is at that intersection," because of its proximity to that farm, she said.

Heffner said she began looking into getting the plaque for her brother when she read something in the newspaper about Callas spearheading the same kind of memorial for others.

"I wrote to him and told him my brother served, too," Heffner said, noting that Callas called her back and the quest began.

During a chilly ceremony in April, Heffner and her husband, Steve Heffner, were there, along with her surviving siblings, a nephew and some area veterans.

"I talked about my brother and his medals such as the Bronze Star and his Purple Heart," Heffner said. "It was so nice that he's been recognized finally."

Heffner met her future husband at Fort Meade, where she was a typist during the war. They met Sept. 22, 1945 - one year to the day after her brother died.

They married in May 1946 and have two children, four grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

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