On October 12, Thurmont Grange #409 held its annual Veterans Appreciation Program. The evening started with a welcome given by Grange Lecturer, Niki Eyler. She stated that the Veterans being honored were “all honorable, upstanding, and respectable members of their families, churches, and communities.” Next, Grange member Noah Barth led all attendees in the Pledge of Allegiance, followed by the National Anthem, led by Granger Hannah Barth.
A special recognition of Veteran and past Granger, Bill Zentz, was given by Thurmont Grange Secretary Jane Savage. Bill, eldest son of Phil and Betty Zentz and grandson of Harry Zentz, a charter member of the Thurmont Grange, graduated from the University of Maryland in 1969 with a degree in business administration. Upon graduation, Bill enlisted in the Army. Before heading to Vietnam, he was stationed in Ft. Sill, Oklahoma, where he was trained as a Field Artillery and Intelligence Specialist.
In 1970, Bill was stationed in Phu Bai, just outside of Danang, and then he was at Firebase Nancy, a hilltop several miles outside Quang Tri City and about 30 miles south of the DMZ. On April 13, 1970, his unit was overrun by the North Vietnamese sappers, and throughout that night, everyone fought back with their rifles, regardless of their military training. After returning home, Bill completed his master’s degree from Frostburg State College, in addition to graduating from the Stonier School of Banking at Rutgers University. He began his career in banking at Thurmont Bank and assisted with the mergers of Nations Bank, Sovereign Bank, and Bank of America. After 35 years, he retired from Bank of America and spent several years working for Ferko, The Frederick County Teachers Association Credit Union.
Bill led an active life of service in Thurmont. He was a member of Thurmont Grange #409; the Thurmont Guardian Hose Company, where he served as Treasurer for 20 years; and American Legion Post 7. Bill was also chairman and member of the Frederick County Vocational-Technical Advisory Council for 20 years. Bill was recognized by Hospice of Frederick County for his service and was presented with a Vietnam War Veteran pin and Presidential Proclamation. He was also the first recipient of the “Proud Veteran” pin, designed by Hospice. On December 20, 2017, Bill passed away peacefully, surrounded by his family after a courageous six-year battle with dementia. He was buried with full military honors at the Blue Ridge Cemetery. In addition to this special recognition, Thurmont Grange will honor Bill with a banner in the Thurmont Military Banner Program, sponsored by the Thurmont Lions Club. Also, members of Scout Troup 270 folded the American flag and presented it to Bill’s children, Warren Zentz, Carroll Zentz, and Jessica Zentz-Ridenour in honor of Bill’s service to our country.
The guest speaker for the evening was Ron Pitts, who is the Western Maryland Chair of the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve, a Department of Defense program that promotes a supportive work environment for Service members in the Reserve Component. Ron explained that almost half of our military force resides in the National Guard and Reserve. They are unique in that they also have civilian employers. Support of America’s employers and the employees they share with the Nation ensures the viability of this all-volunteer force of the Reserve Component and, thus, our national security. For more information on this program, visit www.ESGR.mil.
Next was a roll call of the evening’s honored Veterans, Fred Henning (Army 65-67), Stacie Massett (Navy 89-95), Louis Haynes (Army 92-00), Ron Pitts (Army 68-71), and Nelson Leroy Smith (Navy 60-80).
Honorees were met with a round of applause in appreciation of their selfless service in the United States Armed Forces. Lastly, a moment of silence was observed for departed Grange members Bill Powell, Cliff Stewart, and Jim Moser, as well as those who had lost their lives defending our country.
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Pictured are family and friends of Bill Zentz who attended to be part of his special recognition.
Pictured from left are Grange Lecturer Niki Eyler, Ron Pitts, Louis Haynes, Fred Henning, Nelson Leroy Smith, Stacie Massett, and Grange President Bob Wiles.