Currently viewing the tag: "Fort Ritchie Museum"

On the former Fort Ritchie military base in Cascade, the Fort Ritchie Museum continues to collect historical memorabilia. Those who may have historical items or information to donate to the collection may contact Landon Grove at the Fort Ritchie offices in the old firehouse onsite.

In December, Meritus Health opened the first and only primary care clinic in the community and expanded to full-time hours for all ages in June.

Mountain Top Ice Cream Shop is open behind the firehouse on weekends through October. 

Flat Top Salon and Suites at 14310 Castle Drive is now open and houses several businesses including Winsome Woods, Orchid Oasis Day Spa, The Kera Studio, Radiant Artistry, and Chemically Lavish. A ribbon cutting will be held on August 4 at 10:00 a.m. to introduce these businesses that offer a various spa treatments, massage, sound healing, and beauty services. The Tap Room and Artisan Village are slated to open this fall! Stop by Fort Ritchie and check them out!

Courtesy Photos

Meritus Health ribbon-cutting in June.

James Rada, Jr.

The Ritchie Boys were crucial in helping the Allies win World War II. They interrogated prisoners, translated captured messages, and engaged in psychological warfare against the enemy. The Ritchie Boys provided more than 60 percent of the actionable intelligence in Europe according to Landon Grove, director and curator with the new Fort Ritchie Museum.

Despite their contributions to the Allied victory in WWII, much of their work was classified until recently.

“Much of it was classified until just within the past 20 years. This, along with their decision, and their devotion to keeping silent about their training and service in World War II, have deservedly earned them the title of ‘secret heroes,’” said Bernie Lubran, president of the Friends of Camp Ritchie. His father was Ritchie Boy Walter Lubran.

With the secret out, the Ritchie Boys may soon get some long-overdue recognition. Congressman David Trone announced in November that he and Sen. Ben Cardin are introducing legislation to award the Ritchie Boys the Congressional Gold Medal.

“Their vital role they played in helping the United States fight the Axis Powers during World War II and ultimately win needs to be recognized,” Trone said.

According to the House of Representatives website, “Since the American Revolution, Congress has commissioned gold medals as its highest expression of national appreciation for distinguished achievements and contributions. Each medal honors a particular individual, institution, or event.”

Beginning in 1942, more than 19,000 men trained at Camp Ritchie in Cascade. About 2,800 were refugees from Europe. Their numbers included men from more than 70 countries. They were trained as order-of-battle specialists, counterintelligence operatives, photo interpreters, psychological warfare experts, and other specialists, according to the legislation.

“Starting in 1942, the Ritchie Boys were sent as individual specialists to the Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force (“SHAEF”) in small elite teams to join combat units in the North African, Mediterranean, European, and Pacific theaters and to military camps, prisoner-of-war camps, and interrogation centers (such as Fort Hunt, Virginia) in the United States,” according to the legislation. Ritchie Boys served with every Army, Marine, Office of Strategic Services, and Counter Intelligence Corps unit in the war.

Approximately 140 Ritchie Boys lost their lives during World War II. They also earned 65 Silver Star Medals, numerous Bronze Star Medals, five Legion of Honor Medals, and many Croix de Guerre Medals.

“The Ritchie Boys made significant contributions to the success of the Allied Forces on the Western Front through their knowledge and their skills, as demonstrated by a classified postwar report by the Army finding that the Ritchie Boys were the source of nearly 60 percent of the credible intelligence gathered in Europe during World War II,” according to the legislation.

Following the war, many of the Ritchie Boys went on to lead distinguished careers, including David Rockefeller (chairman of Chase Manhattan Bank), Archibald Roosevelt Jr. (grandson of President Theodore Roosevelt), J. D. Salinger (author of Catcher in the Rye), Gardner Botsford (editor of the New Yorker Magazine), John Chafee (a governor and senator from Rhode Island), David Chavechavadze (the great-great-grandson of Czar Nicholas I of Russia), Vernon Walters (U.S. ambassador to the United Nations), William Warfield (actor and singer known for his role in the opera Porgy and Bess and the musical Showboat).

Today, it is believed that only 200 Ritchie Boys are still alive, most of whom are in their mid- to late 90s.

One of the secret heroes was in attendance for Trone’s announcement at Fort Ritchie. Ninety-seven-year-old Gideon Kantor first came to Camp Ritchie in 1943. He and his family had left Austria, fleeing the Nazis. They arrived in America in 1941. He graduated high school here and started college, but he chose to join the Army and support his adopted country. He was sent to Camp Ritchie to train as a Ritchie Boy.

The Ritchie Boys have also been awarded the Elie Wiesel Award from the United States Holocaust Museum and a U.S. Senate resolution.

Bernie Lubran

Gideon Kantor

Landon Grove