Washington County veteran takes on monumental task of honoring comrades each Memorial Day

May 23, 2008|By JANET HEIM

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CLEAR SPRING -- As a member of the 87th Infantry Division during World War II, Pfc. Brady Haines took on the monumental task of helping protect the world from the Germans. His patriotism didn't end with his service.

For the past 29 years, the combat-wounded veteran has taken on the monumental task of honoring fellow veterans every Memorial Day.

This year, almost 500 grave sites will receive an American flag, with flags supplied by Joseph C. Herbert American Legion Post 222, where Haines is a charter member.


Haines, 83, visits eight cemeteries in the Clear Spring area, where he grew up -- Mount Tabor, Shanktown, Green Spring, St. Peter's, Blairs Valley, New Life, Little Rose Hill and St. Paul's. Legion members now place the flags in St. Paul's Cemetery.

The annual pre-Memorial Day effort began in 1979, the last time Post 222 had a committee and chairman to do the job.

Haines scours the local obituaries daily and keeps an updated log of veterans in the Clear Spring area. He often goes out and finds the new grave sites, marking them in his logbook so he will be able to find them come Memorial Day.

Initially, Haines placed the flags with the assistance of his wife of 63 years, Edna Mae "Skeets" Haines, 82. Each year, the number of veterans grew, and eventually, Brady Haines felt the job was too big to tackle any more.

That's when family members joined in to help with the annual effort. Haines has a son, daughter, two granddaughters and two great-grandchildren. One of his granddaughters is Kristi Shupp-George, an employee of The Herald-Mail.

Last year, Haines announced he was "retiring" and handed the logbooks back to the Post commander. His family urged him to do it another year, although Haines is concerned he will be missing the veterans who died this past year since he wasn't keeping track.

"It's not a simple job really," Haines said. "I don't like to miss anybody."

Haines still is hoping some will step up and take over the project. He said a younger veteran had offered to take on the job, but he died.

As for Haines' own service to his country, he was injured on his sixth day of combat on Dec. 17, 1944. The left-handed Haines was hit by shrapnel in his right arm, an injury that caused permanent nerve damage.

Haines received the Purple Heart, in addition to several other medals.

As a result of his injury, he was sent home in March 1945, in time for the birth of his daughter in June.

Haines said he has opposed a suggestion that a large American flag be flown at each cemetery to honor all of the veterans, instead of individual flags.

"If they were good enough to serve their country, we can at least give them a flag each year," Haines said. "It's a privilege, I'll tell you."

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