Currently viewing the tag: "U.S. Army"

How I Came to Know My Father ~ Part 1

by Sally T. Grove

Using Her Father Chester L. Grove, Jr.’s Diary and Reflecting on What He Had Written

I was 20 years old, fresh out of college, and in my first year of teaching, a difficult first year. Why did college prepare me so little for my own classroom?

Finally, a break, a time to breathe. I went home for Thanksgiving. At home, I talked with Dad about my living situation and my finances, both in dire straits. A basement apartment, a bathroom that leaked water into the kitchen, and a landlord who lived richly and didn’t care about the problems of his tenants, even as they lived in his own basement. What should I do? Car payments! Dad had warned me not to buy a new car. Not one to listen, I bought a new Honda and was now living the consequences. I loved my shiny red Honda, but the car payments on an $8,000 per year teaching salary were a killer.

On Thanksgiving Day 1977, my father invited me to move back home to relieve the pressure. I could save some money and have some support from my family as I got my feet wet teaching. I cried that Thanksgiving and gave Dad a big hug and kiss, telling him how grateful I was and much I loved him.

A day later, while sifting through a trunk in my family’s unfinished basement, I found a small stenographer’s notebook, its brown cover worn, well-traveled, edges frayed. I opened the notebook slowly, deliberately. Its contents were gradually revealed, like the plot of a mystery novel. As the practiced and perfect handwriting came into focus, I knew this writing to be my father’s.

 “On April 15, 1943, I took my examination for the U.S. Army. It was on this day that I ate my first sandwich consisting of baloney.”

Was that my father? I had never seen him eat a baloney sandwich. In fact, I know his menu by heart: vegetables consisting of peas, corn, baked beans, and any kind of potato; meats, always dry and over-cooked—these were his meals and ours—and Friday night was tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches. These are the foods that Dad liked, and these are the foods that we ate and loved. We ate like our father, all six of us, much to my Mom’s chagrin.

“The morning of April 22, my last day home, I went up Carroll Creek and caught seven beautiful trout, my last as a civilian.”

When our family visited “Poppy in Frederick” when I was small, I used to stare at the stuffed fish that adorned his dark, dusty, shadowed walls. The fish hung as a testament to his youth and his sense of adventure. My grandfather was a fisherman, and he taught my dad to fish. I have a great picture of my father (shown left), standing with a fist full of fish fanned out for the photographer’s film. Was this a picture of Dad on the day my grandfather caught the big one?

“Our train ride took us through Western Maryland, West Virginia, Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Alabama… We arrived at our new station, Fort McClellan, a very tired bunch of rookies… I got along very well eating most everything we got for meals, although not liking it very much…”

His first big adventure via train—how exciting! With six kids, our family’s adventures now consisted of camping in Western Maryland or a week in Ocean City. We rode bikes each morning on the boardwalk and had pancakes at Happy Jack’s Pancake House. At least in Ocean City, Dad ate what he wanted.

“I took the Air Cadet exam the 12th week of basic. The passing grade for the cadet exam is 83 and I made 100%, the 3rd highest grade… On February 16th, 1944, I made my first flight at the school and by March 11th, I had completed 10 hours of flying. I really loved flying…”

Twenty-one years old and learning to fly. I didn’t know Dad had flown planes! Why didn’t he tell us? I remember when we were little, Dad took us to “Penny-A-Pound” Day at the local airport. For a penny a pound, we could go on an airplane ride. I remember being frightened and not wanting to go. Dad convinced me it would be okay. Once in the air, I couldn’t get enough of flying. The houses and streets looked like a miniature Christmas village below. No wonder Dad loved flying.

“… arrived at Santa Anna Army Air Base on the 23rd, after a very exciting trip across the U.S., my first. After taking the test for three straight days, I was a classified pilot but then the tragedy came. An order came from Washington, calling back all cadets who were former ground force students and so my dreams of flying were crushed on April 1, 1944 by a single piece of paper.”

I guess that’s why my father didn’t tell us…his dream was shattered. What other dreams did Dad have for his life? Most of what I know of my father revolves around the time he spent with his family. Were we part of his life dream?

Courtesy Photo of Chester L. Grove, Jr. in Uniform

Courtesy Photo

Robert McPherson Gardiner

by Terry Pryor

Lt. Robert McPherson Gardiner in uniform. Courtesy Photo

Although born in Denver, Colorado, Robert McPherson Gardiner spent his childhood and youth at the Auburn home in Catoctin Furnace. It was from here that he joined the Army in 1943.

This is, in part, his story. I did not know him, but I am married to his nephew, Christopher Orth Gardiner, who has regaled me with wonderful stories of this man and his lifetime accomplishments.


308th Field Artillery Battalion

APO 78, U. S. Army


8 August 1945

Subject: Recommendation for Award

To:  Commanding General, 78th Infantry Division, APO 78, U. S. Army.

1. Under the provisions of AR600-45, as amended, it is recommended that ROBERT. M. GARDINER, First Lieutenant, 0528776, Field Artillery, Battery “C”, 308th Field Artillery Battalion, present for duty, be awarded the Silver Star for gallantry in action in connection with military operations against the enemy on 17 January 1945.

2. Detailed Description of Incident: Lt GARDINER, a Field Artillery Forward Observer, was with an Infantry company assigned the mission of holding a piece of high ground and a pill box in the vicinity of Rafflesbrand, Germany. On 17 January 1945, the Germans attacked in force to retake this ground and to reoccupy the pill box. The Infantry Lt GARDINER was supporting was driven from the dug in positions in front of the pill box, leaving it exposed to the enemy. Realizing the importance of the position, Lt GARDINER held his ground and continued firing on the enemy in spite of the fact that his position was overrun. The Germans subjected the pill box to heavy artillery and mortar fire, wounding Lt GARDINER and killing his radio operator. Lt GARDINER then himself operated the radio and continued to observe the enemy. The results of his accurate calls for artillery fire were devastating and were greatly responsible for the disorganization of the planned attack by the Germans. He continued to call for and adjust fires for a period of six hours until the ground was again secured by our own Infantry. This artillery played an important part in repulsing the enemy and driving them from the hill. Although wounded, this Officer remained at his observation post for 48 hours, continuing to bring artillery fore down on the enemy at every suspicious move. Lt GARDINER distinguished himself throughout combat as being one of the most dependable, aggressive, and courageous forward observers in the 308th Field Artillery Battalion. His aggressiveness, personal courage and heroic action are in accordance with the highest military traditions.

* Unfortunately, this letter is missing the last part of the page, but he was awarded that Silver Star that he so deserved.

The following is from the November 16, 2018, Wall Street Journal, by James R. Hagerty.

Robert Gardiner, Wall Street Giant, Helped Sears With ‘Socks and Stocks’ Strategy

Army veteran was part of building Dean Witter into a powerhouse and launching Discover credit card.

Stay put or flee? Atop a hill in Germany’s Hürtgen Forest in January 1945, Robert Gardiner, a 22-year-old Army officer, had to make a quick decision.

As his unit faced swarming German troops, he was in a concrete pillbox and responsible for directing artillery fire. He stayed, even after mortar fire briefly knocked him out and killed his radio operator. With blood trickling down his back, Mr. Gardiner took over the radio duties to provide cover for his troops.

The 6-foot-7 Army officer, nicknamed “Stretch,” might have made an easy target, but he survived and returned home to launch a career on Wall Street, where nothing ever seemed to fluster him. He was deeply involved in two mergers that helped transform the securities industry from a gaggle of small partnerships into a business dominated by global companies.

Mr. Gardiner, who died Nov. 3 at the age of 95, headed Reynolds Securities when it merged into Dean Witter in 1978, creating one of the largest Wall Street firms. In 1981, he was president of Dean Witter Reynolds when Sears, Roebuck & Co. paid about $610 million for the firm as part of its strategy of offering financial services—including insurance, real-estate brokerage and investment funds—alongside refrigerators and underpants.

Robert MacPherson Gardiner was born Nov. 17, 1922, in Denver. His family had a candy business in New York but had moved to Colorado with the hope that cleaner air would help his father, Clement Gardiner, recover from tuberculosis. The elder Mr. Gardiner died when Robert was 9, and the family relocated to a dairy farm near Frederick, Md. (Auburn) He attended the Trinity-Pawling boarding school in Pawling, N.Y., where he was on the basketball team.

At Princeton University, he majored in history and participated in the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps. He wore an Army uniform and marched to classes and meals.

“I remember practicing slouching and bending my knees to appear shorter when measured so that I would qualify for the Army’s height limit,” he wrote later. After graduating from Princeton in 1943, he was inducted into the Army. In October 1944, he was shipped to Europe. As an artillery forward observer, he wrote, “I served as the eyes of the gunners.” He was awarded Silver Star and Purple Heart medals for remaining in the exposed pillbox in the Hürtgen Forest. He also won a Bronze Star and a Belgian Croix de Guerre.

After the war, he became a research analyst at the Wall Street firm A.M. Kidder & Co. Five years later, he jumped to a bigger firm, Reynolds & Co. He soon found he was unhappy there and wrote a letter of resignation. The firm’s founder asked why he was leaving. “I told him it was a lousy firm, and I told him why it was a lousy firm,” Mr. Gardiner recalled in a 2005 oral history. “Instead of throwing me out on my ear, he said, ‘Why don’t you become my assistant?’ Maybe we can do something about it.’”

By 1958, Mr. Gardiner was managing partner of Reynolds as it opened offices across the U.S. and in Canada. Reynolds eventually merged with Dean Witter, which was strong on the West Coast, creating a national firm to rival Merrill Lynch.

The 1981 takeover offer from Sears was too generous to refuse, he said later. Sears soon promoted him to CEO of Dean Witter. Financial-services kiosks popped up in hundreds of stores. By the time Mr. Gardiner retired in 1986, however, the kiosks still weren’t producing much business for Dean Witter. The retailer abandoned its “socks and stocks” strategy in the early 1990s. Dean Witter ended up as part of Morgan Stanley.

Though investment kiosks in Sears stores didn’t work out, the idea of combining a securities firm, an insurer and a real-estate broker was sound, Mr. Gardiner said in the oral history. The best solution, he suggested, would have been to keep them together and spin off the Sears stores. One lasting business that emerged from the combination was the Discover credit card, which he helped launch.

In his later years, he served as an adviser to Morgan Stanley and had an office in the World Trade Center. He tended to show up early at the office and start his day by tipping his fedora to the receptionist. On Sept. 11, 2001, he was stuck in traffic near the Holland Tunnel, saving him from the terrorist attack.

Mr. Gardiner was a longtime trustee of the Boys’ Club of New York and endowed a school at a Boys’ Club summer camp. He also supported the Guggenheim Museum and the Trinity-Pawling School, among other causes.

Mr. Gardiner is survived by Elizabeth Walker Gardiner, whom he married in 1975. An earlier marriage ended in divorce. He is also survived by three of his four children and two grandchildren.

Friends recalled his relentless optimism. When the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 23% in one day in October 1987, he assured colleagues it would quickly rebound. In his early 80s, he was still hoping to improve his golf score. After he had a stroke on his 89th birthday, doctors didn’t expect him to walk again. “I disregarded their prognosis,” he said later in an interview with a Pawling school publication.

He regained mobility with help from a walker and enjoyed six more years of shuttling between homes in Gulf Stream, Fla., and Far Hills, N.J. “I like to be in New Jersey when the tulips are blooming,” he said. “I’m a big fan of tulips.”

James Rada, Jr.

Thurmont servicemen Charles Pittinger and Woodrow Carbaugh were remembered last month when the Moser Road bridge was dedicated in their honor. However, their families will soon receive another remembrance. Kellen “Buck” Musser will paint portraits of the two young men for their families.

Musser, 83, has been painting for 20 years. He often paints in watercolor or acrylics, using a palette knife.

“I use every edge of that knife when I paint,” he said.

His paintings are vivid and often look a lot like a photograph. He once spent two-and-a-half hours getting a shoe right in one painting.

Musser is also a 26-year Veteran of the U.S. Army and Air Force, serving in Vietnam. He often paints portraits of fallen Veterans for their families and Veterans’ groups. For the many hours of loving work he puts into the portraits, he receives nothing more than a “thank you.”

“This comes from the heart,” he said.

Musser not only paints the portrait, he also has it framed for the family. Over the years, he has painted more than 100 of these portraits.

He remembers the first one he did of David Smith, a Frederick Marine reservist killed in Afghanistan in 2010. Musser spent about 50 hours on the painting. When it was complete, he called Smith’s mother and asked her to meet him.

“I told her I had something very valuable to her that she would want,” Musser said.

They met in a Denny’s parking lot, and Musser took the painting out of his truck to give her.

“Her smile when she saw it… she had tears running down her face looking at it. That made it worth it for me,” Musser said.

Musser grew up in Brunswick. He dropped out of high school and joined the Army. When he retired from the military the first time, he came to Frederick to work as a maintenance employee for the city. After two years, he realized he didn’t enjoy civilian life and rejoined the military.

“In all those places, all those people I met, I never told anyone I was an artist,” Musser said.

He always knew he had an attraction to making art, but he never indulged himself and took classes to refine his skills. That is, until he saw a painting of a vase of flowers with water drops on it. Those water drops intrigued him, and he decided he wanted to learn how to paint.

“It was a gift I was born with, but I had never used it,” Musser said.

He took a class with Diane Simmons at A. C. Moore. Then, he continued taking classes with her, learning all he could, trying different subjects, and challenging himself. He then found a way to combine his love of art and the military.

He does his paintings at his small kitchen table, working from pictures of the servicemen provided by their families.

“I don’t eat at the kitchen table anymore,” Musser said. “It has my work on it.”

His home is filled with his paintings—hung on the walls, in sketchbooks, in stacks around the living room. He also has a book filled with the letters he has received from the families to whom he has given his paintings.

His work has also allowed him to meet some notable Veterans, such as Frank Buckles, the last surviving Veteran of WWI who died in 2011, and Hershel “Woody” Williams, the last surviving Iwo Jima Medal of Honor recipient.

Buck Musser holds a painting he made for “Woody” Williams, the last surviving Iwo Jima Medal of Honor winner. You can see on the wall a self-portrait he did of himself after he joined the Army.

Photo by James Rada, Jr.

Joseph Hooker Clabaugh

20 Years of Service

by Priscilla Rall

Joe Clabaugh’s life is woven into our community’s history beginning with his grandfather, J. Hooker Lewis, from the Garfield and Foxville area, who owned five local orchards. He bought one from a German family whose house was located where Mountain Gate Restaurant is now. It was part stone, part log, and the German family kept their animals in the lower level of the home! When J. Hooker’s daughter, Carrie, married Joseph Elmer Clabaugh, this young family moved into the old farmhouse. J. Hooker and his wife moved into a home where the Kountry Kitchen is now.

The farmstead had a smokehouse where the Clabaughs cured hams and bacon from the hogs they raised and butchered, and a springhouse where they kept the milk, cream, and butter from their milk cows.

Carrie and Joseph had 10 children, but in 1929, their oldest daughter, Carrie, tragically died at four years old when she was hit by a car at the end of their lane. Their son, Richard, 13, died from blood poisoning when he was swept over the dam at Bentz’s pond and cut his leg. This was before antibiotics.

Their son, Joseph Hooker Clabaugh, was born in December 1919. Young Joe was kept busy bringing firewood into the house to feed the kitchen’s cookstove and the chunk stove in the living room. All the kids carried water from the well in the front yard into the house, as they had neither running water nor electricity.

Joe recalled riding their milk wagon to deliver the farm’s milk. Bob, the old black horse, knew all the stops by heart and never missed a one. Joe’s father never did drive a tractor or a car. He hewed to the old ways. His mother was “the best cook that ever hit this world.” She was well known for her homemade noodles and pot pie.

When Joe finished seventh grade, he quit school. He lied about his age and joined the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). He worked in the camp at Green Ridge, 30 miles from Cumberland, just across the river from Paw Paw, West Virginia. His two older brothers joined the CCC as well. They all earned $25 a month. The government sent $20 home, and they kept just $5. After he left the CCC, Joe worked on a farm in Hansonville.

In 1937, he joined the U.S. Army. He trained at Ft. Belvoir in Virginia with Company D, 5th Engineers. He was discharged after suffering from a severe cut to his hand. Then he worked at a foundry in Baltimore, along with his cousin, Charles “Stud” Lewis, making piston rings. Later, he worked for Herman H. Fisher, driving a fuel truck from Baltimore to Detour.

During WWII, Joe attempted to enlist five times but was rejected due to his injured hand and classified 4F. It was a bitter blow to the family when his cousins, Gordon and Raymond Pryor, died while in the service. Cousin Harry “Buck” Lewis was shot and then captured on the Battle of the Bulge. Amazingly, he survived his captivity but was down to 100 pounds.

Joe then worked for several years at Hammaker’s, setting tombstones. In March 1946, the Air Force finally accepted him. By the first of April, he was on his way to the Philippine Islands. He was assigned to the motor pool in Manila. He saw first-hand the terrible destruction of this once beautiful city. There were still 40-50 ships sunk in the harbor, and most of the buildings were empty hulls. Later, he was assigned to the Field Police at Hickam Field, but was soon sent to Guam to serve in the Fire Department. From there, he went to Andrews Air Force Base, where he served for five years. He got home in February 1948, and in May, he married Shirley Long from Creagerstown.

Joe’s next orders were to Greenland, leaving his family, that now numbered three children, home. Greenland was quite a new experience for Joe. They often had “wind warnings” when you had to stay indoors or be blown away. No planes could land then, either. After 13 months, Joe was sent with his family to Forbes Air Force Base in Topeka, Kansas, as a fireman, where they spent two-and-a-half years. They experienced severe ice storms with large hail that put dents in everything exposed.

Finally, Joe got a wonderful assignment in Upper Hayfield, England, just 60 miles from London. He was able to take his daughter, Chris, to Holland for a memorable trip to a tulip festival.

In 1959, Joe was transferred to Bunker Hill, Indiana, where the “big boys,” the B 58s, were stationed. They carried the “big bombs,” but Joe refused to say anymore. “I ain’t telling you nothing.” This was the era of the Cold War, and Joe remembered a “hot day” when the airbase had 47 B57s lined up during the Cuban Missile Crisis, and they were on “high alert.”

Tech Sgt. J. Clabaugh retired from the Air Force in 1963, after 20 years and 1 month of military service. “I’m done!” The family returned to Thurmont, and Joe worked on the farm until George Black, the fire chief at Fort Ritchie, offered him a job. He worked there and at Site R for 17 years (9 years in the tunnel). During this time, the family lived in Shirley’s home with their five children, Chris, Jerry, Dennis, Billy, and Jimmy. Work was second nature to Joe, and after all of those years at Ft. Ritchie, he worked at Mount St. Mary’s until he finally retired for good.

The family moved from Creagerstown to New Cut Road and then finally to Longs Mill Road in Rocky Ridge. Joe and Shirley have been active volunteers at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Creagerstown, the Rocky Ridge Fire Department, and the American Legion in Thurmont. His volunteering only ended with his death in 2009. He earned his rest. Thank you for your service, TSgt. Clabaugh, and may you rest in peace, dear friend and neighbor.

If you are a veteran or know a veteran who is willing to tell his or her story, contact the Frederick County Veterans History Project at

Photos were taken in Manila after WWII while Joseph Clabaugh was stationed there.

“Farm Boy to Combat Engineer”

by Priscilla Rall

Robert “Bob” Clifford Mount, the son of Clifford and Violet Mount, grew up milking cows by hand and plowing with a team of horses, named Dick and Queeny. He lived in a home without electricity, phone, or plumbing. Bob was a farm boy, born in 1931 in the Great Depression. He went to a one-room school and knew little about what was going on in the world, as the family could only use their radio when they charged its battery at his grandmother’s house.

In 1948, Bob left school when he turned 18 and joined the U.S. Army.

He went to Fort Belvoir for training at the Heavy Equipment Mechanic School. Then he was sent to Hawaii, where he was able to complete his high school classes and get his diploma. In June 1950, the Korean War erupted unexpectedly, and Bob was sent to Korea in July. His unit, the 72nd Combat Engineer Company, was in the Pusan Perimeter, where the Americans were desperately holding onto a patch of land on the southeast Korean peninsula. When the company was in review one day, the commanding officer asked if anyone could type. No one raised their hand. So, the commanding officer asked again, and this time, Bob raised his hand, breaking the first law in the Army: NEVER volunteer for ANYTHING!
Bob then raced to the camp’s office and yelled, “Does anyone know how to type?” He managed to get a book on learning to type, and he was ready in a few days to become the company’s regimental clerk! But, soon, the company was sent to make roads, sweep for mines, etc. They didn’t have a demolition man, and Pvt. Mount ended up with that job, too.

Once, when they were checking a bridge for explosives, they descended a ravine by the bridge and, without warning, became the target of North Korean snipers. The GIs promptly called for artillery, which quickly ended the snipers’ attack.

Another time, they were passing through a deserted village on a lane with stone walls on both sides when the enemy opened fire on them from behind the walls, resulting in several casualties. The danger was never far away, even in the Pusan Perimeter.

After the successful invasion at Inchon, near Seoul, the troops in the Pusan Perimeter broke out and headed north. Pvt. Mount’s company was part of the 5th Regimental Combat Team that worked with the Turks, the British, the Greeks, the South Koreans, the 1st Cavalry, and the U.S. Marines. Again, they were making roads and also building pontoon bridges. The troops were buoyed by the pronouncement from Gen. MacArthur that they would be “home for Christmas.” The soldiers made their way north with few difficulties until those in on the west side made it to the Yalu River, which divides North Korea and China.

It was mid-November and getting colder by the day. Bob remembers standing guard one night; in the morning, when he was relieved, he got to camp just as the chow truck got there with tasty hot pancakes—the best meal Bob claims he ever had!

Tragedy loomed as the Chinese crossed undetected into North Korea and attacked the Allied troops, just as the soldiers had finished savoring their Thanksgiving dinner. The soldiers located on the east of the Chosin Reservoir and the Marines on its west took the brunt of the enemy’s forces. The northernmost troops in the west were decimated as well. Frederick County lost Cpl. Paul Carty from Thurmont, Sgt. Roy Delauter, Sgt. Joseph Trail (who was captured and died in a POW camp), and Sgt. Norman Reid. Washington County lost PFC Herene Blevins, Cpl. Kenneth Ridge, and Marine PFC Daily Dye, all at the Chosin.

The Allied troops retreated in haste, and most of those killed in the north still lie in that frozen wasteland. Bob recalls that his general ordered a retreat even before MacArthur did. The 8th Army fled in confusion, as did all the Allied troops. His unit finally stopped in Seoul, and they built a bridge next to the destroyed one across the Han River. He could hear friendly howitzers firing north all night long. Ironically, another Maryland boy, Rupert Spring from Dickerson, was with a company illuminating the area to help the engineers building the bridge.

Finally, Bob was sent home and discharged at Indiantown Gap, Pennsylvania, in August 1951. Unbeknownst to Mount or the military doctors, he had contracted a case of malaria that didn’t flair up for two months. Few local doctors were familiar with this tropical disease, and it was some time until it was properly diagnosed and treated.

Bob soon crossed paths with a beautiful young lady, Winnie, who he had known slightly before the war. They were married in March 1952 and had two children. The GI Bill helped them buy their first home. Later, they lived on Fish Hatchery Road. Bob realized that to get ahead in business, he had to get as much education as he could. With the help of the GI Bill, he took classes at several different colleges and eventually became the Senior VP Auditor with the Bank of America. Pretty good for a boy who grew up without even electricity!

Bob doesn’t regret his time in Korea. The GI Bill helped him in his career, and his ambition did the rest. Bob has been very active in the KWVA Chapter 142, and he and Winnie now live in Country Meadows, enjoying a peaceful retirement that they have both earned. Bob, thank you for your service!

If you are a Veteran or know a Veteran who is willing to tell his or her story, contact the Frederick County Veterans History Project at

Robert Clifford Mount

Although Edward Bowman Coleman was born in Port Republic, Virginia, in 1924, he has lived most of his life in the Blue Ridge Summit and Sabillasville areas.

In the early 1920s, his father rented a farm in Virginia, earning $1.00 a month, two hogs, and a house to live in. Later, the family moved north and rented farms that the banks had foreclosed on during the hard times of the Great Depression. When the farm was sold, the Colemans moved on to another foreclosed farm. Once the Colemans lived next to the Browns, the mothers would do their Monday laundry together because Edward’s mother had a gas-powered washer! Edward did not notice at the time the Bowman’s 13-year-old daughter….but he would later!

Edward’s father worked at the Crown, Cork and Seal Co. until he broke his leg, resulting in one leg being shorter than the other. His father then moved to Baltimore to work at the Martin Marietta Plant and would return home to Sabillasville on the weekends. Edward attended the brick school at Sabillasville through seventh grade, and then went on to Thurmont High School, where he graduated in 1942.

Edward followed his father to Baltimore to work at Martin Marietta as well, but with war engulfing the entire world, the U.S. Army drafted Edward in February 1943. After training, he was assigned to Company A, 149th Infantry, 38th Division, nick-named the Cyclone Division. In January 1944, the division shipped out as part of a large convoy that traveled through the Panama Canal on its way to Hawaii. The wrecks of the ships the Japanese sunk on December 7, 1941, were still visible, and his company patrolled the beaches until they were sent to New Guinea for “mopping up” operations. Luckily, they did not encounter any enemy troops, but Edward did notice that the native women did not wear bras!

Then they traveled to the Philippine Island of Leyte, where the American troops first invaded the island nation. Ironically, Leyte is where a Japanese sniper severely injured Graceham native, Sterling Seiss. Before Edward arrived, they encountered a bizarre quirk of nature: a fine white powder that reduced visibility to zero suddenly engulfed their ship. Without warning, their ship beached on a coral outcropping just beneath the sea with no land in sight! Unable to get the ship off the coral, the troops boarded other smaller landing crafts. They eventually discovered a volcanic eruption miles away that caused the white cloud.

Once again, Edward’s company performed “mopping up” operations. The enemy had abandoned a strategic landing strip, and Edward’s company was there to protect it. Edward and a comrade dug a foxhole and two slit trenches to rest in while another soldier kept guard. They switched jobs every two hours. Edward had just finished his duty and was trying to get a little rest when a grenade exploded right in front of his buddy, killing him instantly. In the battle that followed, Japanese paratroopers attempted to regain the airstrips. They failed, but the Japanese killed 18 men in Edward’s company.

With Leyte finally secure, the 149th was loaded up and sent to Subic Bay in Luzon. Manila had finally fallen, and 100,000 Filipinos died in the horrific fighting there. Gen. Douglas MacArthur then declared the Philippines secure, neglecting to mention the thousands of enemy troops still in the mountainous north. Once more, Edward’s regiment was sent to “mop up” northern Luzon. They were still fighting when the Japanese surrendered after the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Because of their battles on the Bataan peninsula, they are called the Avengers of Bataan.

After spending nearly two years abroad, Coleman was finally discharged in November 1945, having earned the Combat Infantryman’s Badge, the Good Conduct Medal, and the Philippine Liberation Ribbon with one Bronze Star. He returned home to meet his youngest sibling, a sister, born when he was in the Pacific.

Jobs were hard to come by after the War, and Edward worked at Fairchild in Hagerstown and at Martin Marietta. Then, using the GI Bill, he attended an aeronautic mechanic’s school. Martin Marietta rehired him, and he spent the rest of his career with the company, even moving to Orlando, Florida, in order to keep his job.

In 1949, he married the now-grown-up Doris Brown, whom he had met so long ago. They had three daughters: Denise, Donna, and Darlene.

When Edward’s father died, Edward bought his house in Sabillasville, where he now spends the summer enjoying the peace of the Catoctin Mountains. However, when the cool winds begin to blow, the family returns to their home in Orlando. In good health, Edward enjoys the mountains and still gardens with the help of his nephew. He revels in the love of his family that now includes four grandchildren.

If you are a Veteran or know a Veteran who is willing to tell his or her story, contact the Frederick County Veterans History Project at

by Jim Houck, Jr.

Merle Edward Crouse Sr., Private First Class U.S. Army

As told to Jim Houck Jr. by Merle Edward Crouse Sr.’s son, Merle Edward Crouse Jr.

Merle Edward Crouse was born to Lester and Louise Crouse. He spent most of his life in Thurmont and went to the local high school;  at that time, the high school went from grade one to twelve. Ed went to school until the tenth grade, when he quit to go to work at the Thurmont Shoe Factory. He was working there when he was drafted into the Army in 1951.

Ed had an accident when he was 16 years old. He was driving a tack with a hammer; a piece of the tack flew off and went into his left eye, blinding him. At that time, being blind in one eye did not stop him from being drafted into the Army. Ed was inducted and was on a trip ship going over from California to Korea on July 10, 1951, when he received a telegram that he had a new born son, Eddy Jr.

Ed Sr. served in Korea until 1952, and the only thing Ed ever said about the Korean War was how cold it was over there. Being in the infantry, he did a lot of marching, and he was having problems with his feet. He got to the point where he could barely stand to walk; his superior officers thought he was faking, but he finally got in to the proper doctors and they discovered he had flat feet. The doctor made special inserts for him and got him back on his feet; he was better after that. He also said that he was in the infantry when he got there and then they put him on a half track as an ammo bearer for the machine guns on the half track; he said it was quite an experience. Ed Sr. was very proud of serving in the U.S. Army, and when he came home, he joined the American Legion and the Emmitsburg VFW. He enjoyed the camaraderie amongst the members. Ed Jr. said he was very proud of his dad for serving to protect him and our country.  

When he returned home, he went back to work at the shoe factory. He was only making 40 or 45 cents an hour at the shoe factory, when he was married and had his first child, Ed Jr. A year later, he had a daughter they named Nancy. Money was tight. Ed Sr. heard there was a new business coming to town named Moore’s Business Forms, and when they opened, Ed Sr. got a job with them, staying for 33 years before he retired. Ed Sr.’s wife’s name was Elsie Elizabeth Hurley of Foxville; Ed Sr. and she were married for 63 years. When Ed Sr. and Elsie first got married, they lived in an apartment at the corner of Radio Lane and Carroll Street. They moved to 16 Elm Street next, when Ed Jr. was about 10 years old. A house building company came to Thurmont called National Homes; they built a lot of reasonably priced houses. At first, Ed Sr. thought he would not be able to afford one of the homes. He had gone to the old Thurmont bank and the president of the bank was Steppy, and Steppy would not let Ed Sr. have the money because the lot and the house was about $7,000 and Ed Sr. needed more collateral. So, Ed Sr. went to the Farmers and Mechanics Bank in Frederick, and they loaned him the money. He got the house built on 16 Elm Street. That is where Ed Sr. and Elsie lived until they died, and Ed Jr. and Nancy lived there until they each got married and left home. Ed Sr. and Elsie never went far from Thurmont, their hometown. Elsie died in 2013, and not quite a year later, Ed Sr. died. Ed Jr. said that because of the way that his parents raised him and his sister, they couldn’t have had better parents. Things were a lot different back then, but good parents were invaluable, instilling the way things should be and respect and politeness in their children. The respect and politeness are some of the things that seem to be missing in children today.

Ed Crouse Sr. was the kind of man I would have really liked to have met. I enjoyed every minute with Ed Jr., listening to all the details of his dad’s life and the love he showed when he spoke of his dad.

Keep an eye out for my column in the August edition of The Catoctin Banner when I write about another neighborhood hero: a former Maryland State Trooper who retired after 25 years of service.

God Bless the United States of America, God Bless Our American Heroes, and God Bless You.

by Jim Houck, Jr.

Specialist 4th Class Thomas Eugene Joy

173rd Airborne Brigade

Tom Joy was born on December 5, 1948, at Annie M Warner Hospital Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, to Austin L. and Catherine E. (Walter) Joy, and was taken home to live with them on East Main Street in Emmitsburg. Tom is the youngest member of his family, having five sisters and two brothers. Tom and his siblings went to St. Euphemia’s Elementary School and went on to graduate from St. Joseph’s High School. Baseball was Tom’s favorite sport, and he loved playing the game. He also played basketball while attending high school. He enjoyed fishing and hunting (ask him about chicken hunting) with the friends he went to school with—Terry Myers, Mike Orndorff, John Sherwin, and Eddie Pryor—and he still hunts and fishes with most of them. Tom, Terry, Mike, Eddie, and a few other friends and classmates went to Trenton, New Jersey, over Christmas vacation one year to some classes to see what it would be like to become a priest. While there, they attended a party and met some girls, thereby deciding to forget the priesthood and go for the girls and fun, instead. Tom also liked doing donuts in a Volkswagen at the old carnival grounds and hitting phone poles; however, he could never fool his dad with his faulty explanations of why the dents were in the VW. Tom, like so many Emmitsburgians, worked at Mount St. Mary’s College (not yet co-ed or a University at that time), washing pots and pans while attending high school.

Tom joined the U.S. Army while in high school and wasn’t to report until July of 1967. Yet, shortly after graduating high school in 1967, his recruiting officer contacted him and asked him to report early in June because they didn’t have enough numbers for that month. Tom agreed to report early. Tom and his friend, Eddie Pryor, left at the same time for basic training to Fort Bragg, and from there to Fort Ord for military police training, and then on to Fort Benning, Georgia, for jump school and paratrooper training. He made five jumps while there. Tom was sent to the southern part of Vietnam after his training was completed as a military policeman. He was assigned to help guard prisoners of war. Tom said if you heard the bang and the whoosh whoosh whoosh sound, it meant outgoing mortar, but if you heard whoosh whoosh whoosh, find cover fast in a bunker before the bang because that meant it was incoming. When he first got to Vietnam, he was assigned to a tact corporation center that was a big area with wire all around it. If any dignitaries were there, they were in this one hooch. If there was incoming fire, he went in and woke the dignitaries to get them into a bunker, so no harm came to them. On his first night on watch, sure enough, incoming fire started coming in, so Tom went to the hooch. It was pitch black in there, and he felt around but someone was in the cot, so he hurried to get the heck out of there and find a bunker for himself. In his next bunker, he felt around for hand grenades and shells. When he discovered that he had jumped into an ammo bunker, he said it didn’t take him long to get out of there. Tom recalls a time he got into hot water because he didn’t shave, even though not shaving was allowed. His CO told him he was an MP and he wanted him to shave every day and to report to him after duty. Tom did, and the CO said to get a shovel and dig a 6 x 6 x 6 hole. He dug the hole and the CO came to inspect it. He said Tom did a nice job, then told him to fill it back in. With that punishment, Tom learned his lesson and shaved every day thereafter. Tom was honorably discharged from the army in 1970.

He met Ruth (his soul mate and wife) and they started dating. One day, they were in Thurmont, and Tom said he was hungry. So, he parked in front of Charlie and Pete Angel’s Sweet Shop. He asked Ruth to hold out her hand. She thought he was giving her a ring, but he handcuffed her to the steering wheel—as a joke—while he went in and ate. She thought they were toy handcuffs and tried to pull out of them. But the harder she pulled, the tighter they got since they were his MP cuffs. By the time Tom came out of the Sweet Shop, they were causing Ruth a lot of pain, and she was so mad at him. Despite the tricks he pulled on her, Tom and Ruth were married, and have two beautiful daughters: Lisa (born on Tom’s birthday) and Tina. Tom and Ruth lived above Green’s Bakery on West Main Street in Emmitsburg by the dough boy when they first got married. A few years later, they moved to Emmit Gardens, where they still reside today. Tom went to work for Moore Business Forms after he was discharged from the Army. He retired from there in May of 1997, after thirty-six years of service. He is enjoying every minute of his retirement.

Tom is a life member of the VFW and the AMVETS and Post Commander of the AMVETS Post 7 Thurmont, as well as a member of Post 7’s Honor Guard. Tom plays a part in most of the functions. He also belongs to Post 121 The American Legion Emmitsburg. Tom does a lot of volunteer time at St. Catherine’s Nursing Center in Emmitsburg and at Martinsburg W.V. Veterans Administration. He is also a social member of the Vigilant Hose Company in Emmitsburg. Tom and Ruth’s children and grandchildren— Samantha Star, Nicholas Scott, and Mathew Jacob—all live nearby, and they enjoy family functions together. I have been told when you go to a ball game, everywhere you look, there are Joys filling the seats. Tom loves a good joke, but when it comes to volunteering and helping Veterans, he is dead serious. I hope you have had as much joy reading this article as I had in writing this article. I wish Tom and the entire Joy family a happy and fulfilling future.

Note: This column that I wrote about Tom was originally published in The Catoctin Banner in August of 2012. Tom hasn’t changed much, except for getting a little older and being elected as Post 7 AMVETS Commander. Wait a minute…there was the time in 2014 when Tom and his wife, Ruth, were both voted in as AMVETS of the Year! Tom is still very active with Post participation and volunteer work for the Veterans and the community. Folks, if you meet Tom on the street or at the grocery store or in a restaurant (Tom hangs out at Post 7 AMVETS, a lot), please say hello, shake his hand, and thank him for all he does. Tom Joy is a Veteran and a “great human being,” and I am so proud to call him a friend.

Pictured from left are Jim Houck, Jr., Ruth (Tom’s wife), and Tom Joy. Tom won the AMVET of the Year Award, Ruth won the AMVET Auxiliary Member of the Year Award, and Jim Houck, Jr. won the AMVET Son of the Year Award.

by Jim Houck, Jr.



joseh joy_2Born in 1927, at home in Emmitsburg to Gertrude and Hubert Joy, was a baby boy they named Joseph (Joe). Joe was one of eleven children: Bobby, Johnny, Kenny, Donald, Mike, Gloria, Patrick, Delores, Jerry, and Rosemary (passed away at three days old). Joe went to school at Saint Euphemia’s in Emmitsburg; he quit school at the age of fifteen and moved to Baltimore, Maryland. He went to work as a painter’s helper at S&A Williams, a painting contractor. He worked for them for about five years, when he decided to go work for his father, who went into business for himself. Joe liked to hunt and would make trips to Emmitsburg, where he would hunt rabbits, pheasants, and squirrel. He said he was not much of a deer hunter and has never killed one. He said he remembers his first automobile was a 1950 Pontiac. He stated that he doesn’t know how many cars he has had, but he’s still driving the one he bought in 1992, and at his present age of eighty-eight, he plans on driving as long as he is able.

Joe was drafted for the army in 1951 at the age of twenty-four. He was sent to Fort Ord Army Base in California within a couple of days after reporting to Camp Meade. He said it was a long ride, and refers to it as a slow boat to China. He was sent to Camp Cook, a couple hundred miles down the road, after his basic training at Fort Ord and spent an entire year in California. He then received orders that he was being shipped overseas from fort Monmouth, New Jersey. He was in New Jersey for three or four days before being put on a ship to Bremerhaven, Germany. Joe said he was asked where he would like to go in Germany, and he said Berlin because his brother was stationed there. They then explained to Joe that they don’t just send someone where they want to go, but just thought they would ask. Then they further explained that they were already planning to send some men to Berlin, so Joe was sent there. He was sent to Berlin for a year; in 1953, his time was up.

Joe was a tower guard for a month at Spandau Prison, where World War II war criminals, Albert Speer, Erich Raeder, Karl Donitz, and Rudolf Hess, were held. While in the tower, He said he saw the prisoners walking around in the yard when they were exercising, but they had German speaking guards that were inside with them. There were seven towers where they watched to prevent escapes from happening. Joe said they had spotlights at night that kept the walls and grounds lit up so they could see all movement. They also did a roving patrol to check the wall; Joe said he did not like that duty. Even though there was no war on, there was always the chance of being mistaken for a prisoner and being shot. Joe was fortunate enough to see his brother (Kenny) while in Berlin, and was very glad they found each other four thousand miles from home.

The prison was torn down in 1987, after the last prisoner, Rudolf Hess, died, so as not to become a shrine for Neo-Nazi’s. It was later rebuilt as a shopping center.

Joe came back to Baltimore after being honorably discharged from the army, and he went back to work painting for his father.

joseh joy_0001-1Joe met Betty Ruth Luster, who lived across the street from where he was residing in Baltimore, and they later were married. Betty and Joe had three children: two girls and one boy—Karen, Kathy, and Steve. They raised their family in southwest Baltimore, close to St. Agnes Hospital. Betty passed away at the age of seventy-three from cancer while they were living in a basement apartment at their daughter’s house. Their daughter was a nurse and was helping to take care of Betty. Joe’s daughter was murdered by a male friend of hers, and Betty died about three months later. The house was sold, and Joe went to live with his son, Steve, for three months; Steve’s house wasn’t large enough to accommodate everyone. Joe has resided (for the past six years) in that area at an apartment complex run by Catholic charities, called DePaul House.

When Joe was young, he was an amateur boxer, with the nickname of “Canvas Kid.” He said he had ten fights and won half of them boxing at the YMCA. He played for the town baseball team of Emmitsburg. But the sport that he was really good at and stuck with was duckpin bowling. Joe bowled on a bowling league for eighteen years, and carried a high average for duckpin bowling. He said he taught his son, Steve, to bowl duckpins, and Steve carried a higher average than Joe. Joe said he bowled for over forty years all together, including ten years for the American Legion in Baltimore.

I received a phone call from Gloria Joy Bauerline one evening telling me her brother Joe was going to be in town for the VFW meeting, being held at Kump’s Dam Park (owned by VFW Post 6658 ). She asked me if I would like to talk to him and interview him. I did not hesitate, and told her I would be honored to both talk to and interview him.

I am so glad that Gloria called me. I found him to be a very interesting man, and I enjoyed every minute of my interview with him. Thank you, Gloria, and thank you, Joe. I am so proud to have met you.

God Bless the United States of America, God Bless the United States Veteran, and God Bless You.

by Jim Houck, Jr.

U.S. Army

Private Alfred Woodrow Clark

102 Years Young

Born June 13, 1913, in Washington, D.C., to Henry and Edith Clark, was a boy they named Alfred Woodrow. Alfred’s family had a tradition of giving newborns of the family a nickname. His family was together nine days after he was born at their home in Takoma, Maryland, and his one aunt said, “Well, I am going to call him Boogie.” His mother confirmed it, and Alfred was stuck with that nickname from that point on.

Alfred had twelve brothers and sisters; he said several of them passed away when they were young. He stated that if they were born today, they probably could have been saved, but they just didn’t have the medical knowledge back then that they have today.

Alfred went to elementary school in Takoma Park and dropped out in the fourth grade, as many did back then. He took care of the huge family vegetable garden, along with his siblings and mother and father.

Alfred stated that at one time he was a heavy drinker. One day, he was in a beer joint; when he came out, this old man was right behind him and asked him which way he was going. Alfred asked the man which way he wanted to go. The old man told Alfred where he wanted to go, and Alfred said he would take him home. When he pulled up in front of the man’s house, the old man said, “Come on in and meet the folks.”

They sat Alfred down around this big round table, and this girl was sitting right across from him. They started talking; the rest of them got up and left. He sat there talking to her for just as long as he could, and then he asked her for a date. The girl told Alfred to come down next Sunday and they will go to a meeting. If Alfred had known it was church, he wouldn’t have gone. Alfred thought that if you broke a commandment, you were done for, and he didn’t know there was any way back. So, that Sunday, they went to the meeting, and the man preached on the five kings: the mineral kingdom, the vegetation kingdom, the animal kingdom, man’s kingdom, and God’s kingdom. Alfred explained that what the preacher said woke him up. Alfred said it was 1936, and he got saved. He married his wife a little over a year later on May 29, 1937. He started into construction work at a young age and, other than the two years he was in the army, made it his life-long career.

Alfred joined the U.S. Army on January 4, 1944, and landed overseas eight days after D-Day; he was all over Europe for the next eighteen months.

When Alfred came home from the army, he went back to work as a construction carpenter for a man named Clark (no relation to Alfred). Clark had come to Alfred’s home and asked him to come to work for him right away. Alfred bought a truck from the man for $200.00; not long after that he was asked to pick up supplies for the construction jobs and wasn’t receiving any pay for his time or the use of his truck. Clark had also wanted Alfred to work extra time after hauling his supplies and not pay him for it. He didn’t stay with that outfit very long; Alfred had just gotten out of the service and needed to be paid.

Alfred got a job as a superintendent carpenter with a construction outfit in Takoma Park for a couple of years before he and his boss had a falling out, and he left that job. That was when Alfred went to work for Poretsky Management and started making kitchen cabinets.

Alfred had his own way of doing heads on cabinets that would only take him two minutes. He remembers his boss telling him to do the cabinet heads, and when his boss came back after an hour and a half and saw Albert just standing there, his boss said, “I thought I told you to do those cabinet heads.” Albert told him that they were built. The boss told Albert that it takes everyone all day to do the heads, so he walked down and looked and said, “I’ll be darned, they are done.” Albert said the boss was very happy and paid him good wages; he stayed with him from 1949-1975. His back and hip were giving him trouble, and his doctor said that if he didn’t retire, his back would retire him. He was old enough to retire, and the doctor wrote a letter to the company explaining it to them. He retired after twenty-six years; the company gave him a big send-off with a check for $1,700 (a nice sum for that time; you could buy a new Chevy Impala) and a plaque with a golden hammer on it with the words “Boogie” Clark, Poretsky Management, 1949 -1975, The Maintenance Crew. He has the plaque on his wall in his room. Alfred said he did more work after he retired than he did before retirement. He sold firewood and said when someone bought a cord of wood from him they got a good cord. Alfred was living in Burkittsville, Maryland, and he and his wife had a daughter, Gwen, and a son, Jerry. Gwen and Vernon Troxell have four boys and are living in Thurmont and Jerry Clark and wife have two girls and are living in Burkittsville, where Jerry has a garage. Alfred has so many great and great-great grandchildren that he said he could not count nor even begin to name them. Alfred said that when you get up there in age, names just don’t stick with you. Alfred has a picture of a dove that had a nest on his back porch; he said the dove used to eat out of his hand, being the only one who could get close to her.

Alfred lost his wife in 2002, after sixty-nine years of marriage; she was just short of 91 years of age. Alfred said, “We got along well; she would say jump, and I would say how high.” Shortly thereafter, Alfred went to live with his daughter Gwen in Thurmont. Gwen pulled her arm out of socket while taking care of Albert and could no longer give him the care he needed, so he is now living at Village of Laurel Run Nursing Home at Fayetteville, Pennsylvania. Alfred said there is no place like home, but he likes it there and the staff is very nice, the food is good, his room is kept clean, and, most of all, he has all the assistance he needs.

I very much enjoyed my interview with Alfred and enjoyed the hospitality he showed me. I found him to be a most interesting man who became an army veteran at thirty-one years of age and already had a wife and children, but loved his country and proudly served. Alfred has had a full life, and I hope he continues to for many years to come.

God Bless the United States of America, God Bless the American Veteran, and God Bless You.

Sgt. 1st Class Bruce Wayne Rice U.S. Army Retired

Born to Mary and Garnett Rice on April 26, 1951, at home in Mountaindale, Maryland, was a boy they named Bruce Wayne. Bruce was given the name of the super hero, Batman, and later in life, even though he wasn’t Batman, he was a super hero in another way. Joseph Rice was Bruce’s younger brother, and his middle brother was Dwight Rice. In 1982, while Bruce was in the Army, Dwight was killed in an automobile accident at the age of twenty-five. Bruce has another brother, Daniel Rice, and a half-brother, Bernie Kefauffer.

Bruce went to Yellow Springs Elementary School in Yellow Springs, Maryland. He then went to West Frederick Middle Junior High School. In 1967, Governor Thomas Johnson High School opened and Bruce went there for tenth, eleventh, and twelfth grades. Bruce graduated from Governor Thomas Johnson High School in 1969, where he took general courses. He played baseball on the varsity team and was active in the high school band, where he played trumpet.

Bruce was on a work study program in the twelfth grade, so he attended school in the morning for half day and the other half school day he worked for Price Electric Co., located on the corner of Church and 2nd Street in Frederick, Maryland. He worked there as a tool dye maker machinist from 1968 until after he graduated. Bruce lived on 2nd Street with his first wife and they had two children: Melissa Rice and Bruce Jr. Bruce worked at Price Electric for a while and then he got a job selling life insurance for Home Mutual Life Insurance Company. He didn’t like selling insurance, because he wasn’t making a lot of money at it, plus there was a lot of travel involved. Bruce went back to work for Price Electric again until he got a job with the Frederick County Sheriff’s Department as a corrections officer. He stayed there for six months or so when he decided he wanted to join a branch of the United States military.

In 1975, Bruce enlisted in the U.S. Army at the age of twenty-four. He wasn’t sure if he would be able to handle rigorous basic training at that age. When he arrived there, he said to himself, “I really don’t think this is what I want to do.” But he was already there, and there really wasn’t anything he could do about it. Many times he thought, “I really have to get out of here.” But he hung in there and, before he knew it, he started to like it. All the young boys there—around eighteen and nineteen years of age—started to call Bruce “Pops.” It made him feel good, because he took the nickname as meaning that he was going to take care of them and look after them. And he did take care of them by talking to them when they started to say “I can’t do this”; he would say to them, “Hey, if I can do this, I know you can, too.” It got to the point that even the drill sergeants were calling him Pops, because they didn’t think Bruce could take it. Bruce took his basic training at Fort Jackson, South Carolina, in July 1975; he said that it was so hot there, and going through all that training, he just didn’t know if he could take it. But he hung in there. Bruce made it through his basic training, and while everyone was out on the parade field, they were informed that some of them would get to go home for a thirty-day leave. Bruce was sure he would be one of them. They were told that if their name was called, they wouldn’t be going home. Sure enough, they called Bruce’s name. Bruce didn’t get a break, because he left Fort Jackson, South Carolina, for Fort Polk in Louisiana, where it was even hotter. Snakes were hanging from trees, and they called it “Little Vietnam”; it was rough, but he put in his time there for the following two months. Bruce wanted to go in as Military Police (MP), but they didn’t have any slots for MPs, so they placed him in the infantry. He was informed that later on down the road if he wanted to become an MP, they would see what they could do for him. They told Bruce where he was going for basic, but they didn’t know where he was going for infantry training. All they told him was that he was going to be in a beautiful, sunny place. He was sent to Fort Hood in Texas and, boy, was it hot down there. When he got there, he got settled and was given his assignment. He was put in Company A. Bruce enjoyed it and said that infantry wasn’t as bad as he thought it would be.

At that time, he didn’t see his family very often. Bruce was married to his second wife, and he had a step-son, Scott Rice. They lived on post when his second wife became pregnant; their second son was born at Darnell Hospital at Fort Hood in Texas, named Charles (Chuck) Rice. Bruce and his family lived on base for three-and-a-half years. While there, Bruce became acting corporal. He came up through the ranks as private, and then private 1st class; his sergeant liked what he was doing and wanted Bruce to be a squad leader, so he made him acting corporal. Bruce was made squad leader and was put in charge of six soldiers. The team worked as toe gunners; they worked well together and took care of each other. If 1st Sergeant said there was going to be an inspection to check vehicles and weapons, Bruce would put the team to work. He told them if they went off he would stand up for them. They would leave and the 1st Sergeant would come in for inspection and ask where his people were. Bruce would tell him that he gave them off, and the 1st Sergeant would say he better be straight. Bruce would tell him he was ready for inspection on the tools and equipment, and, after the inspection, Bruce’s team would come out first every time. Bruce said he took care of his boys and they took care of him.

After a while, Bruce got promoted to corporal. As soon as he was promoted, his Company commander and his 1st Sergeant wanted to make him an acting sergeant, so they made him an acting sergeant E-5; he never got to wear his corporal stripes, so they pinned on acting E-5  stripes—he was still doing the same work he was doing as corporal. As time went on, they wanted someone to take over handling the weapons, so they sent Bruce to school to be an armorer. He came out with flying colors as an armorer, and he took over being the armorer for the company. Bruce maintained and repaired weapons until he left the Company. While Bruce was at Fort Hood, he did spend a six-month rotation in Europe as a standby unit in Wildflecken, Germany. It was like being deserted up on a hill; they did a lot of good training in the snow. He was then rotated back to Fort Hood, Texas. Bruce’s enlistment was getting ready to come up, and he had a four-year enlistment at the time. They asked him to reenlist. Bruce told them he would reenlist under one condition: they would send him to Military Police School to become an MP. They came back and told him they couldn’t do it. So, Bruce told them he was going to get out—that was six months prior to his ETS date. About three months before his ETS date, they called him up and said that they wanted him to reenlist. Bruce restated his original condition. They sent him to MP school, but said they couldn’t get him in because there were no slots open for an E-5. About a month later, they called Bruce and said they found a slot for him for MP school and asked if he wanted it. Bruce told them he would take it, and he reenlisted for three more years. He finally got his orders to report to MP training at Fort Rucker, Alabama, where he completed MP training. Following his training, they sent him to Fort Benning, Georgia. Bruce was then assigned to the 192nd infantry brigade, which was an MP Unit. Their jobs were to go in the field and direct tanks and anti-personnel carriers through the mountains; when they got back, they did military police work on the roads. After sixteen months, they sent him to Stuttgart, Germany, to Detachment A 42nd Military Police; the main headquarters was in Frankfurt, which did customs work. They checked household goods or baggage that people were leaving Germany with and going back to the states. Bruce remembers it being a very interesting job, because you didn’t have a whole lot to do and you would go in and get your assignments for the day, checking three or four pack outs that people were leaving to go back to the states with, and then you would go to a warehouse where you would store their equipment or their baggage while they were waiting to go back to the states. Bruce would make sure it was tagged to show there was no illegal contraband going from Germany back to the states. While Bruce was there, they decided they would send two people to another site, so he decided he would take an E-4 with him to Gerkenstatd, Germany, and take care of all the people going back to the states; it kept the two of them busy, making the eight-hour shift go fast. Bruce’s time was just about up; he was having some personal problems back in the states, so he decided it was time to go back home and get out of the Army. Bruce left Germany for the United States, and was on his way to McGuire Air Force Base to process out. While there being processed, they asked if he would consider staying in as a reservist. Bruce thought long and hard about it and decided he would. He ETS’ed out of active duty and went back home. He then got a call to report to 690 Supply Company in Frederick, Maryland. Bruce reported to 690 Supply Company as an E-5; he was there about a year when they promoted him to E-6 Staff Sergeant in 2002. Then he was sent to a supply company in Cumberland, Maryland; he was sent there because where he was, they did not have a slot for E-7, and Bruce was up for E-7 Sergeant 1st Class. Bruce made Sergeant 1st Class at the 690 Supply Company, and he was transferred to the 256th Supply Company in Cumberland. When he arrived there, Bruce was informed that the 256th Supply Company was deactivating, so there wasn’t going to be a 256th Supply Company. He stayed at the 256th Supply Company until they did deactivate. Then they sent him to the 372nd Supply Company. A sergeant that Bruce knew since he was a kid told Bruce he would be more than glad to take him in his unit. He stayed with 372nd MP Company as Platoon Sergeant for one of the platoons.

They then decided they wanted someone to take over as 1st Sergeant at Fort Meade in Maryland. They had a detachment down there, so they asked Bruce if he would be an active 1st Sergeant to the detachment unit at the 376th in Fort Meade. He decided to take it and thought it wasn’t too bad there. However, it turned out that he was wrong since he would have to take his entire detachment to Cumberland. This was a fiasco, because they would call Bruce at home in Thurmont, and he would have to go to Fort Meade, load everything up, and then drive to Cumberland. Just as they get there, they would be told it was an alert and have to turn around and head straight back to Fort Meade.

Bruce got married to his present wife, Lisa, in 1986; they have three children: the oldest, Heather; Taylor; and the youngest, Matthew. They all live in Thurmont. Bruce was in the military while they were all growing up. He decided that with the military becoming political, he couldn’t even have ammo to go to the shooting range to practice; he had enough and it was time to get out. Bruce decided to retire with almost twenty-four years in—but twenty good years. Some of the years didn’t count, because he got out and went back in as a reservist. Bruce earned the good conduct medal, ribbons for taking non-commissioned officer courses, armor school, Overseas Award ribbon, ribbons for his tours in Europe, and an Expert Rifleman award.

In a way, Bruce is sorry he left the Army, because of the camaraderie he felt with the men. But when he got out, he joined the AMVETS Post 7 in Thurmont. He feels he has a lot of camaraderie there, like he had with his Army buddies. Bruce joined the AMVETS in 2002, and it is the only Veterans organization to which he belongs. Bruce is very proud to be in the Post 7 Honor Guard, and he tries to participate in all the things involving the Honor Guard. The Honor Guard of Post 7 is proud of all the awards they have been presented over the years, and is now the official Color Guard and Honor Guard of The Department of Maryland AMVETS.

Bruce is retired now, but when he retired from the Army, he went to work with a company called Pan Engineering (making printed Circuit Boards). He then got a job with the Postal Service at the post office in Frederick, Maryland. While Bruce was working at the Frederick Post Office, he met his present wife and said it was love at first sight. Bruce has seven children and ten grandchildren. He then went to work at the Hagerstown Post Office, and was Postmaster of Rocky Ridge Post Office for two years where he retired.

Bruce is a very interesting person and a pleasure to interview. When you see him, please shake his hand and thank him for all the service he gave to the greatest country in the world.

God Bless the United States of America, God Bless the American Veteran, and God Bless You.