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Sergeant George Frailey Combs

Navigating Bombers Over Europe

by Richard D. L. Fulton

George F. Combs was born January 11, 1922, to parents Cooley and Clara Rowe Combs. He grew up in Emmitsburg and had two brothers, Samuel and Thomas.

Combs’ military registration card, filled in when he was 20, described him as being 5’7” and as having blue eyes and blonde hair, with a “ruddy” complexion.

Combs was married for 60 years to Doris Peppler Combs, 50 years of which was spent living  in Alexandria, Virginia, according to Combs’ obituary, published at the time of Combs’ death in 2014 by The Frederick News-Post, among others.

He attended Mount Saint Mary’s University and graduated with honors in 1942. Also in 1942, he enlisted in the United States Army Air Corps.  The United States Air Force did not yet exist in 1942 and would not be created until 1947.

Combs’ obituary stated that, following his graduation from navigation school, he was assigned to the 8th Air Force based in England.  The 8th Air Force was initially designated as being the VIII BC (Bomber Command) in 1942, and was subsequently designated as the 8th Air Force during the reorganization of 1944, according to the Official United States Air Force Website (

Combs and the then-designated VIII BC were initially assigned to Daws Hill in England, and subsequently, headquartered in High Wycombe in Wycombe Abbey (a school for girls). 

While stationed in England, Combs “became a lead navigator, guiding formations of B-17 bombers on missions over occupied Europe,” according to his obituary. 

For his service with the 8th Air Force, Combs was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, three Air Medals, and four Battle Stars. 

According to the Air Force website (, from May 1942 to July 1945, “the Eighth planned and precisely executed America’s daylight strategic bombing campaign against Nazi-occupied Europe, and in doing so, the organization compiled an impressive war record.”

However, the website further noted that the successes of the 8th Air Force, which had included engaging in over 440,000 bomber sorties, during which, the planes dropped 697,000 tons of bombs, did not come without a price: 

“The Eighth suffered about half of the U.S. Army Air Force’s casualties (47,483 out of 115,332), including more than 26,000 dead. The Eighth’s brave men earned 17 Medals of Honor, 220 Distinguished Service Crosses, and 442,000 Air Medals. The Eighth’s combat record also shows 566 aces (261 fighter pilots, with 31 having 15 or more victories, and 305 enlisted gunners).”

Combs attended Dickinson Law School, after having been discharged from the service, and graduated in 1948 with a law degree, subsequently becoming a member of the Maryland Bar Association.

He also spent his entire career with the United States Government Federal Trade Commission, according to his obituary, “he worked as a staff attorney and as a confidential advisor to several commissioners.”  It was noted that Combs had also prepared the drafts of over a hundred Commission adjudicative opinions. According to The Washington Post, Combs also received the Federal Trade Commission’s Distinguished Service Award for his career contributions.

His obituary also noted that his most significant achievement “was his work on the opinion which resulted in the licensing of the patent on the antibiotic Tetracycline, saving consumers millions of dollars.”

Sergeant George Frailey Combs (Obituary photograph)

Anyone who might know a Veteran or is a Veteran, who would like to share their experiences in the military for publication in The Catoctin Banner, is invited to contact the columnist at [email protected]. Thank you.

Upon Combs’ death from congestive heart failure (according to The Washington Post) at age 92, his memorial service was held at the Myers-Durboraw Funeral Home in Emmitsburg. He was interred in the Emmitsburg Memorial Cemetery.

Mount Saint Mary’s University released a list of the Class of 2023’s accomplishments in the wake of its 215th commencement exercises on May 13, in which 616 students graduated, including the Mount’s first-ever students from the Master of Science in Applied Behavior Analysis program.

Donna Klinger, executive director of communications, stated that, regarding undergraduate degree recipient, 130 recipients were from the College of Liberals Arts, 134 recipients were from the Richard J. Bolte, Sr. School of Business, 32 recipients were from the School of Education, and 138 recipients were from the School of Natural Science and Mathematics. [no quotation marks…is this whole paragraph her quote?]

Master’s graduates included 7 Master of Arts recipients in Philosophical Studies, 10 Master of Arts recipients in Teaching, 85 Master of Business Administration recipients, 1 Master of Education recipient in Instructional Design and Technology, 7 Master of Education recipients in Instructional Leadership, 12 Master of Science recipients in Applied Behavior Analysis, 22 Master of Science recipients in Biotechnology and Management, 10 Master of Science recipients in Health Administration, and 20 Master of Science recipients in Sport Management.

Six cadets from the Mount U.S. Army ROTC program from the Mount’s Class of 2023 will be commissioned. They are Ucheyah Aguoru, Michael Guzman, John Otoo, John Ruedisueli, Andrew Sobocinski, and Nicholas Vincente. Andrew Sobocinski received the Lancer Award for outstanding performance and exemplary leadership in the program.

Commencement speakers included Karen Mataldi Dahut, C’85, CEO of Google Public Sector (GPS) and . Dahut is a respected and recognized public speaker and author, and an expert on technology, the future of work, innovation and inclusive leadership. In 2021, she received the university’s Simon Brute Medal, which is given to alumni who have distinguished themselves through their career, commitment to the community and the Mount, and service to their fellow citizens. She will be honored with a doctorate of humane letters in recognition of her service to the university and the local and global communities.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers Head Coach Todd Bowles, who in the fall of 2022 earned a Bachelor of Science in youth and community development through the university’s Center for Accelerated and Adult Education, also addressed the graduates. 

Bowles is entering his second season as head coach of the Buccaneers, following three seasons as the team’s defensive coordinator. He was previously head coach of the New York Jets. He also played eight years in the NFL, with the Washington Redskins (now Commanders) and San Francisco 49ers. He has three Super Bowl rings as a player (Washington), coach (Tampa Bay), and administrator (Green Bay Packers).

The student speaker was Rita Anoh, recipient of the 2023 Edward J. Flanagan Memorial Prize, awarded to the member of the senior class who best represents the tradition of the university in scholarship, conduct, and leadership. Anoh, a resident of Westminster, Maryland, is a double major in biochemistry and French.

Notable graduates recognized included Thunlwyn Garcia, an entrepreneurship major; Collin Nji, a computer science major; Devin Peart, named co-recipient of the Rev. John J. O’Neill Memorial Prize for the member of the senior class who has attained outstanding achievement in political science studies; Julianna Roman, the recipient of the J. Daniel Larsen Memorial Prize for the distinguished study of the French and/or Latin languages. Roman is a triple major in philosophy, politics, and economics, French and Spanish; Lynne Schumacher, the first 12 graduates of the Master of Science in Applied Behavior Analysis program; Tayla Stewart, an elementary education major with dual certification in special education and recipient of the Dr. Judy Ramoy Johnstone Endowed Prize; Johnathan Tran, a biology major and recipient of the Dominic Greco Award for a pre-medical student who has been a credit to the university; and Abigail Zeigenfuse, a neuroscience and health sciences pre-nursing major, who also received the Excellence in Neuroscience Award.

Congratulations to Mount St. Mary’s University Class of 2023.

Photo Courtesy of MSMU

Mount Saint Mary’s University’s Class of 2023 at their May 13 graduation ceremony.

The Emmitsburg High School Alumni Association (EHSAA) is pleased to announce the winners of its annual EHSAA scholarship program. Five $1,000 scholarships were awarded this year. The scholarship applicants were judged on involvement in school and community activities, as well as their academic work. Honors and work experience were also considered.

The first two scholarship recipients are seniors at Catoctin High School (CHS).  Lily Bingman, daughter of William and Jennifer Bingman, is planning to attend Coastal Carolina University in the fall. Mackenzie Orndorff, daughter of Tommy and Michele Orndorff, is planning to attend Mount Saint Mary’s University in the fall. 

The final three recipients were former graduates of Catoctin High School.  Attending Mount Saint Mary’s University, career goal in the area of law, is Savannah Morris, daughter of Julie and Charles Morris. Attending Oklahoma State University, majoring in agricultural communications, is Rianna Chaney, daughter of Becky and Lee Chaney. Attending Butler Community College, career goal in agricultural communications, is Sheridan Chaney, daughter of Becky and Lee Chaney.

This year, EHSAA was able to give out a fifth $1,000 scholarship, in memory of Edward and Margaret Meadows.

All recipients will be recognized at the Emmitsburg High School Alumni Association’s 98th Annual Banquet to be held October 16, 2023. We wish them all success.

Richard D. L. Fulton

Mount St. Mary’s University’s Office of the Provost announced in October that the institution has added 12 new full-time faculty members to its university staff.

The office stated that the new employees represent a range of various disciplines and backgrounds. 

“They bring in diverse experiences and backgrounds that will greatly benefit Mount students,” said Provost Boyd Creasman.

 According to the Office of the Provost, five of the new faculty members have been assigned to the College of Liberal Arts.

These five include:

Assistant Professor of Theology Roberto De La Noval, who earned his doctorate from the University of Notre Dame with a focus on 19th and 20th-century philosophical theology.

Assistant Professor of Philosophy Rika Dunlap who came to the Mount from the University of Guam and who earned her doctorate from the University of Hawaii at Manoa in Asian philosophy.

Assistant Professor of World Languages Manuel Garzon who recently completed his doctorate from the University of Pittsburgh, specializing in Hispanic transatlantic studies.

Sheldon Shealer, lecturer in communication who joined the MSMU after teaching at the Mount for many years as an adjunct professor, and whose expertise in sports communication will help the university maximize the benefits of the MAAC’s contract with ESPN.

Assistant Professor of Political Science Mai Truong, who had earned her doctorate from the University of Arizona with a specialization in social and protest movements in East and Southeast Asia.

Three new faculty members have been assigned to the Richard J. Bolte, Sr. School of Business.

These members include:

Associate Professor of Business Boris Morozov, who came to the Mount from the faculty of Lock Haven University, and who earned his doctorate from the University of Nebraska at Omaha and brought a “vast experience in teaching finance.” 

Associate Professor of Business Philip van Berten, who is teaching entrepreneurship for the Mount, and who earned his doctorate from CNAM in Paris, France.

Associate Professor of Sports Management Sarah Zipp who came to the Mount from the University of Stirling in Scotland, and who earned her doctorate from Erasmus University in the Netherlands.

The success of MSMU’s new Master’s in Applied Behavior Analysis has led to the hiring of two additional faculty members: Rebecca Correll, who recently completed her doctorate in applied developmental psychology from George Mason University and has served as the CEO of The Language and Behavior Center in Silver Spring, and Alexa Mochan, who has brought a vast amount of experience in working in clinical settings to help train our students and is currently serving as clinical director for Mission Autistic Centers in Frederick.

Office of the Provost reported that two of the new faculty members have previous connections to the Mount: Angela Mucci-Guido returned to the faculty as a lecturer in education, having most recently taught at Salve Regina University, specializing in special education; and Assistant Professor of Chemistry Sarah (Bonson) Krueger, who returns to her alma mater after completing her doctorate at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign in organic chemistry.

“It was a great recruiting year for the Mount,” said Provost Creasman, adding, “We are blessed that these talented faculty members joined us this fall.”

Experience Art In Motion! ESP Performing Company’s annual showcase fundraiser is a fun and entertaining evening out for the entire community. The annual ESP Showcase Fundraiser will take place on Saturday, February 23, 2019, at 5:30 p.m. in The Marion Burk Knott Auditorium at Mount Saint Mary’s University in Emmitsburg. Advance tickets are $10.00 for adults and $5.00 for students. There will be basket raffles, 50/50s, concessions, and flowers available for purchase. This year (included with Main Show ticket purchase) there will be a Bonus Solo/Duo/Trio Show at 5:30 p.m., with the main show starting at 7:00 p.m.

This year’s showcase will again feature Maggie Kudirka “The Bald Ballerina.” Maggie is an amazing dancer and an outstanding young lady who was diagnosed in 2014 with stage 4 metastatic breast cancer while dancing with The Joffrey Ballet Concert Group. Maggie has been dancing since she was four years old. Maggie shares her journey and speaks to groups around the country to help bring awareness about metastatic breast cancer. Maggie also teaches master ballet classes and continues to dance while fighting this terminal disease. You can follow Maggie on her Bald Ballerina Facebook page.

The choreography and dances presented by ESP in the showcase have already won numerous awards this season. The dancers are excited to present these performances to the community, as well as continuing to travel the East Coast this competition season. ESP dancers love traveling and competing on the road, but their favorite place to entertain is at home.

“Local performances have always been my favorite events. Making the community smile though the passion we have for dance is heart-warming. I look forward to ending my very last local performance with a bang, with the best team I could ever imagine,” said Lucy Estep, senior dancer.

Mike of Mike Miller Photography said, “I love taking pictures of the ESP Performing Company at the Showcase. The ESP dancers always put on a fantastic show. Their grace, energy, and talent sure make for some beautiful pictures, but they are even more amazing live. I hope everyone comes out to see them on stage and supports the company. ESP is a wonderful gift to our community. The Showcase will not disappoint!”

Tickets may be purchased through any ESP Performing Company member or at ESP Dance Studio, 15 Water Street, Thurmont. Registration is still open for spring 2019 classes at the studio, culminating with the annual recital “ESP Visits Wonderland” at the Weinberg Center on Saturday, June 15. All levels of classes are available. ESP specializes in many types of dance, including tap, ballet, jazz, hip hop, lyrical, contemporary, acro, and pointe. Participating in dance class is a great way to build confidence, strength, and to have tons of fun! Check ESP out on Facebook at ESP Dance and ESP Performing Company. Please support ESP Performing Company and help Keep Art Alive!

ESP Performing Company (from left): (front row) Abigail Shriner, Anna Doolittle, Tierney Burns, Laken Maniscarco, Maria Fry, Adaline Ridenour, Evie Price; (second row) Emma Strahler, Georgia Wiles, Jordan Bridgett, Mya Horman, Justin Stevens, Sofia Domingues, Marissa Smith, Olivia Gamer, Julie Beech; (third row) Olivia Ecker, Rose Weedy, Claire Daly, Valarie Witmner, Mackenzie Garrett, Kristen Felichko, Sophia Daly, Robyn Tucker; (fourth row) Jack Estep, Kaylyn Ott, Kierdyn Ott, Emily Mitchener, Lucy Estep, Lyla Zelenka.

Stephanie Kennedy of Thurmont was awarded a $1,250 National Rifle Association (NRA) Scholarship at the 2018 AIM Grand National Championship, held this summer in Sparta, Illinois.

Kennedy is a criminal justice major at Mount Saint Mary’s University and a member of the Thurmont Top Shots. She also placed third in Class C Doubles Trapshooting in the junior-gold division at the competition.

Emmitsburg Presbyterian Church

by Theresa Dardanell

I recently visited The Emmitsburg Presbyterian Church and met with the minister and some of the members. During the meeting, Rev. Dr. Peter Keith said, “Anyone coming to worship with us would hear a message of inclusiveness, love, and forgiveness, not about judgement,” and everyone agreed.  The small tight-knit congregation enjoys Sunday services that combine uplifting music; prayers of thanksgiving, sharing, and petition; and sermons described by Lynda Lillard as giving them “some very thought-provoking ideas about God/Jesus/Christianity that carry us through the week.”  A “Wee Sermon” for the children is given during the service. Organist Christine Maccabee plays classical and contemporary music, as well as the hymns during the service. Christine said that “the harmonies of music are a glorious expression of the harmonies of heaven, and so both the playing and singing of them is uplifting for the soul.” Also, twice a month, everyone is welcome to join the discussion group before the Sunday service to talk about a particular book and share thoughts and ideas.

The members are very proud of their contributions to the local and the worldwide community.  As members of the Emmitsburg Council of Churches, financial assistance is provided to local families through the Seton Center Outreach. They also have a scholarship fund set up to benefit a student at Mount Saint Mary’s University. The entire congregation is involved with the youth group projects, which benefit organizations around the world. School supply kits and hygiene health kits were collected and sent to Church World Service, where they were distributed to communities where the need is great. Money collected from fundraising projects was sent to the Presbyterian Mission, which then provided blankets for refugee families, chickens for a family to raise food, and gardening tools and a water filter kit for people who do not have access to clean water.

The church has a long history that began in 1760. It was originally a meeting house, known as Tom’s Creek Presbyterian Church, and was located about a mile north of Emmitsburg. In 1839, it was moved to the current location on Main Street in Emmitsburg, and the name was changed to Emmitsburg Presbyterian. The building was remodeled in 1869, and then rebuilt again in 1879. Unfortunately, it was struck by lightning in 1902 and was destroyed. The church was rebuilt in 1904 and remodeled in 1950. The stained glass windows are magnificent, and the interior design is warm and welcoming.

Emmitsburg Presbyterian is located at 415 West Main Street in Emmitsburg. Everyone is welcome to join them for the 11:00 a.m. Sunday service.

Rev. Dr. Peter Keith and members of the Emmitsburg Presbyterian Church.

Photo by Theresa Dardanell

In light of two recent area fires of significance, a Home Fire Safety Visitation effort, including Smoke Alarm awareness information, began Saturday, December 12, 2015, reaching Emmitsburg area residents. Red Cross volunteers and local fire/rescue first responders were joined by other safety advocates in going door-to-door, promoting the importance of having working smoke alarms in place and helping to answer questions and/or providing assistance with existing smoke alarms.

The joint effort was undertaken by a number of fire safety advocates from across the region, working together to help assure fire safety in homes, apartments, and similar residential occupancies.

The two recent fire events occurred on: Wednesday, December 2, 2015, in a commercial/residential building (apartments) on South Seton Avenue (residents displaced; business disruption); and Monday, December 7, 2015, on West Main Street (double-fatality, plus one serious injury; residents displaced).

During the Home Fire Safety Visitation effort, personnel were out and about in the community, offering insights on simple and easy-to-accomplish home fire safety measures, including installing free smoke alarms where requested. Safety personnel—men and women—wore easily-identified apparel, showing their affiliations.

Emergency services vehicles were seen in various neighborhoods during visitation periods. Anyone interested can also call the Vigilant Hose Company (VHC) fire station at 301-447-2728 to request a visit or follow-up visit at a suitable time. A door-hanger information card was left at each home if no one was home, as well as where residents may prefer safety teams to return at a more convenient time to discuss safe practices and/or install an alarm.

The new alarms have non-removable 10-year lithium batteries, plus also include a “Hush” feature for accidental activations, such as from vapors during cooking periods, from fire places when a damper is not initially opened, and so forth. Teams will offer to replace any existing alarm more than ten years old, including any that use 9-volt batteries, which must be replaced at least yearly.

Jointly with the Vigilant Hose Company, this important initiative was taken in cooperation and coordination with efforts already underway by the American Red Cross of Western Maryland, the Town of Emmitsburg, the Emmitsburg Council of Churches, the Fire Prevention Committee of the Frederick County Volunteer Fire/Rescue Association, the Frederick County Department of Fire & Rescue Services and the Frederick County’s Fire Marshal’s Office, the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office, the U.S. Fire Administration/National Emergency Training Center, Emmitsburg Volunteer Ambulance Company, Mount Saint Mary’s University, area Media Outlets, the Seton Center, the Emmitsburg Business & Professional Association, and area Service Clubs.

Further information is available on various websites like those of the Vigilant Hose Company, Town Government, and so on. Additionally, for residents living inside town limits, information will also be posted on the Town’s Cable Channel.

Note: This effort did not include installation of Carbon Monoxide (CO) Detectors, but the VHC will gladly help with that effort upon request in the coming weeks.