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James Rada, Jr.

For anyone watching President Donald Trump’s State of the Union Address on February 4, a face seen in the gallery might have easily been mistaken for Santa Claus. It was Thurmont Mayor John Kinnaird. He attended the event as a guest of Congressman Jamie Raskin.

“It was the chance of a lifetime to do something I never thought I would do,” Kinnaird said.

Rankin called Kinnaird a week before the event and asked him, “What are you doing next Tuesday?”

When Kinnaird found out that he was being invited to the State of the Union, he was surprised, to say the least. For one thing, Kinnaird is a Republican, and Raskin is a Democrat. “I thought there’s got to be lots of other people more deserving than me,” Kinnaird said.

Kinnaird arrived at Raskin’s office in the Cannon House Office Building around 5;00 p.m. From there, he and Raskin went to a reception in the Rayburn Office Building, hosted by Congressman Steny Hoyer of Maryland. He had the opportunity to speak with several other U.S. representatives while there. He then traveled on the Congressional subway from the office building to the Capitol Building. He and Raskin visited the Rotunda and Statuary Hall. They then attended a reception at Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s office. “It was jam-packed,” Kinnaird said. “I saw the speaker, but it was only from a distance.”

He also had the opportunity to speak with Washington D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser about issues both municipalities deal with.

He also saw several of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. One even remarked on the Scotland pin that Kinnaird was wearing on his sports coat. It led to a conversation with the man for several minutes. “It was exciting to be in the company of all these people and talk with some of them,” Kinnaird said.

He also wore his Maryland tie, which many people remarked upon.

From his gallery seat, he had an excellent view of the podium. He was speaking with someone when he turned to see First Lady Melania Trump entering the gallery. She sat about a half a dozen seats away from him.

He had the chance to speak briefly with Brig. Gen. Charles McGee and his great-grandson for a few minutes before the address.

While the gallery guests were mixed somewhat between supporters and non-supporters of the President, Kinnaird said it was very obvious on the floor who was a Democrat and who was Republican.

“It was electric being in that room,” Kinnaird said.

Because of his nearness to the First Lady, Kinnaird can be seen on some of the pictures and video of the gallery when guests were announced.

He said the entire experience was humbling, and he was glad he was able to be there to represent Thurmont.

Thurmont Mayor John Kinnaird and Congressman Jamie Raskin at the U.S. Capitol.

The board of directors of Mother Seton School announces the appointment of Kathleen J. Kilty (pictured right) as the school’s first lay principal. A graduate of The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. and Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Dr. Kilty brings extensive experience in the field of education, both as a principal and a teacher.

“We are very blessed,” explained Dan Hallinan, chair of the Mother Seton School board. “Not only is Dr. Kilty an experienced principal and teacher in the Archdioceses of Maryland and Washington, D.C., but she will continue to carry on the mission of Mother Seton School, originally established by St. Elizabeth Ann Seton and administered by the Sisters ever since. In addition, Daughters of Charity continue to serve on the Mother Seton School board and in faculty and administration roles here.”

Dr. Kilty most recently served as executive assistant to the Head of School in Georgetown Visitation Preparatory School (grades 9-12) in Washington, D.C. She previously was principal, as well as assistant principal and Middle School teacher, at St. Andrew Apostle Catholic School (pre-K through grade 8) in Silver Spring, Maryland. She also served as Middle School teacher at Saint Catherine Labouré Catholic School in Wheaton, Maryland, and St. Jerome Catholic School in Hyattsville, Maryland. Dr. Kilty was also the Women’s head basketball coach for five years at The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., and served as team captain while a player during her undergraduate junior and senior seasons. 

A 1992 graduate of The Catholic University, where she earned her Bachelor of Arts Degree in Elementary Education, Dr. Kilty also earned her Master of Science Degree in administration and supervision from Johns Hopkins University in 2005; she earned her Doctor of Philosophy Degree in Catholic Educational Leadership and Policy Studies from The Catholic University of America in 2018.

James Rada, Jr.

In the days before air conditioning, Washington D.C. could be nearly unbearable in the summer. Those who could would travel to summer homes in more-agreeable climates. It wasn’t always possible for federal officials, though.

In 1915, some of the towns surrounding the capital city began making their case to serve as the summer capital for the United States, in a similar way to the way President Dwight D. Eisenhower would use his Gettysburg home as a temporary White House while he was recovering from a heart attack. They were generally towns within a couple hours of Washington, D.C., and at a higher elevation.

In August, the Waynesboro Board of Trade appointed a committee to open communications with Congressman D. K. Focht “and urge him to use his influence in having the summer capital located in this section,” according to the Gettysburg Times.

W. H. Doll of the traffic department of the Western Maryland Railway traveled to Washington, D.C. and met with one of President Woodrow Wilson’s secretaries to show the railroad’s support for having Blue Ridge Summit be the summer capital.

“Mr. Doll called attention to the fact that Blue Ridge Summit is now more or less a ‘summer capital’ on account of the large number of government officials and members of the diplomatic corps who spend the heated season there,” the Gettysburg Times reported.

Diplomatic delegations from Argentina, Norway, Japan, and Uruguay already had many of their members spending the summer in Blue Ridge Summit, Pennsylvania. The Washington Post even noted in 1915 that Viscountess Chinda, the wife of Japanese Ambassador Chinda, had traveled to Japanese property in Blue Ridge Summit, calling the summer embassy. The U.S. Attorney General and U.S. Comptroller of the Currency also spent much of the summer in the mountains.

Some of the diplomats and officials had homes, but others simply stayed the summer in the Monterey Inn. The Monterey Inn was probably the most famous of the inns of Blue Ridge Summit. It was built in 1848 and attracted visitors from all over the region. The inn would burn to the ground in 1941, but in 1915, it was the jewel of Blue Ridge Summit.

For a while, it seemed that the government was considering officially designating the town as the summer capital. Engineers from Washington traveled to Blue Ridge Summit in October to take elevations and measurements of the town and surrounding area. Local officials took it as a sign that the government was collecting data on where to build government buildings.

It wasn’t the first time towns had made an appeal to be the summer capital. Earlier in the year, Braddock Heights in Frederick County had made its case only to see nothing come of it. It doesn’t seem that the town fathers made much of persuasive appeal other than offering cooler summer weather within a fairly close location to Washington, D.C.

Meanwhile, Virginia Congressman Charles Carlin was making the case for the summer capital being in the Virginia mountains, not far from Washington. The basis of his appeal was that he would submit a bill for designating a summer capital, but only if it was located in his district in Virginia.

Although Blue Ridge Summit’s official recognition as the summer capital failed, the town continued to appeal to foreign delegations. Even as late as 1940, about a dozen foreign embassies maintained summer legations in Blue Ridge, many at Monterey, occasioning it to be called often “the summer capital of the United States,” according to the Living Places webpage for the Monterey Historic District.

Japanese Ambassador Chinda and wife Viscountess Chinda.

Courtesy Photo

James Rada, Jr.

Thurmont got its day before the camera as Good Day DC on FOX 5 in Washington, D.C., spent the morning of July 13, 2018, filming in town. The hosts and crew of the television show traveled to Thurmont and broadcasted from various locations around the town from 6:00-11:00 a.m.

“Our whole purpose in participating was to expose Thurmont and north county to millions of viewers,” said Vickie Grinder, economic development manager for Thurmont.

To be considered for one of the “zip trips,” Grinder had to submit a portfolio of information about Thurmont to FOX 5 last year. It included a list of events, history of the town, places to visit, and much more.

“It was a lot, but as a town, we had all these great things to show them,” explained Grinder.

The announcement of the 15 trips was made in May. One location is visited each Friday during the summer. Grinder said that to the best of her knowledge, Thurmont is the smallest town that the crew has visited. “Thurmont shined just as much, if not more than those larger places.”

Zip Trips showcase local restaurants, schools, and businesses. They interview members of the community who come out to watch the broadcast and host lots of activities.

Hosts Tucker Barnes, Maureen Umeh, and Annie Yu set up their central location at the open field next to PNC Bank on East Main Street.

Some of the other locations and people featured were:  Mechanicstown Park; Gateway Brass Ensemble, directed by Morris Blake;  Linda Elower, ESP dance director; Timeless Trends; Eyler Family Stables; Cunningham Falls State Park; Thurmont Police Chief Greg Eyler; Mayor John Kinnaird; Josh Bollinger, Bollinger’s Family Restaurant; Tony Testa, Rocky’s Pizza; Cindy Grimes, J&B Real Estate; Thurmont Little League coaches and players; and Sam Feng, owner of Simply Asia.

Kinnaird was quizzed on Thurmont trivia, although he was given the questions and answers ahead of time.

“I think I would have scored 100 percent even without the answers,” stated Kinnaird.

The eventual hope of Grinder and Kinnaird is that people will see the segments about Thurmont and decide to visit. The afternoon of the broadcast, Grinder heard that someone had seen the show and visited Eyler Family Stables Flea Market, which was included in a list of the five stops that visitors need to make while in Thurmont. Grinder also said that during the weekend after the broadcast she received five emails requesting more information about the town.

Thurmont Mayor John Kinnaird poses with FOX 5 Good Day DC’s Annie Yu and Maureen Umeh at the filming in Thurmont on the morning of July 13, 2018.

Photo Courtesy of Kinnairdimages.com

Local Emmitsburg Vigilant Hose Company (VHC) First Responders played important roles on Friday, January 20, 2017, in Washington, D.C., during the Presidential Inauguration. Neither political nor partisan in nature, their public safety duties included filling in at a District of Columbia fire station, due to the fact that the City’s normal call volume can increase three-fold on this particular day every four years, plus many D.C. emergency services units are committed to responsibilities directly associated with the day’s public events (from which they cannot be easily released). Emmitsburg personnel, along with other emergency personnel from Frederick County’s emergency services, were approved for their unique duty assignments (after having been cleared to serve by the U.S. Secret Service, the DCFD, and our own Frederick County Government / Department of Fire and Rescue Services).

Frederick County provided a total of four ambulances, two engines, two ATV’s, and a Battalion Chief. VHC members staffed Emmitsburg’s Engine 63 and were assigned to D.C. Fire and EMS Station 20, located in the Tenleytown section of the City (on Wisconsin Avenue, just south of Tenley Circle in upper northwest), plus special assignments like staffing an EMS ATV (all-terrain vehicle) near the Washington Monument and driving an ambulance stationed along the parade route.

VHC Chief Chad Umbel, who for weeks helped plan the support effort, said, “It was a great honor for our small department to be selected, and our people were treated very well,” adding that, “their day started before 4:00 a.m., not getting back home until 9:00 p.m., followed by cleanup of the unit. It was something our personnel are certain to always remember.”
Leading the crews were VHC Lieutenants Alex McKenna and Doug Yingling, along with President and former Chief Frank Davis, who drove the Engine. In addition to Davis, McKenna, and Yingling, staffing Engine 63 and accomplishing related duties in the Nation’s Capital were VHC Firefighters Matt Boyd, Vance Click, Greg Sterner, Shawn Wetzel, and Dave Zentz.
Adequate coverage here on the home front was planned for in advance, knowing that a number of VHC’s operational response personnel were helping to assure an orderly transition of American power—a hallmark of the nation’s democracy.

VHC Engine 63 became ‘Engine 906’ for the day, their assigned designation under the Washington Council of Governments’ regional emergency services plan (Frederick County units use the ‘900’ series while each county in the metro area has its own unique designation to avoid confusion in the event of a major regional disaster.


Pictured left to right are Matt Boyd, Shawn Wetzel, Greg Sterner, Dave Zentz, and Alex McKenna.

Cameron Rogers

Members of the U.S. Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, Merchant Marines and Public Health Services were recognized at the annual Pilgrimage for the Sea Services Mass on October 2, 2016, at the Basilica of the National Shrine of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton.

Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, the former archbishop of Washington, D.C., and son of a ship captain, celebrated the Mass. It was organized, among others, by retired Adm. William Fallon. Hymns were sung by the Catholic Choir from the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis.

The story of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, who converted after traveling to Italy with her ailing husband, is familiar. The widow underwent many hardships, but founded the Sisters of Charity, schools and orphanages. She died in 1821 and was canonized as the first American-born saint in 1975.

Less well known is that two of her sons, Richard and William, served on the USS Cyane and USS Macedonian, respectively. Her devotion to them led then-Monsignor John O’Connor, a former Navy admiral and chaplain who would go on to become the cardinal of the Archdiocese of New York, to lead the effort to have her named “Patroness of the Sea” in the late 1970s.

Admiral Fallon, whose education includes a Catholic high school in New Jersey and Villanova University, said Mother Seton’s work and entombment at the shrine that bears her name made it a natural location for the acknowledgement of those who serve at sea.

“They face a lot of dangers,” he said, of the U.S. armed forces. “It’s good to pay tribute to them.”

During his homily, similarly, Cardinal McCarrick spoke of Mother Seton’s dedication to her sons in the Navy, and praised the service of the men and women in the armed forces.

“I see a group of people who love their country,” he said. “We are not alone in wanting peace around the world.”

Almost every pew in the shrine’s basilica was occupied. A Joint Ceremonial Color Guard led the opening procession, and remained at attention for the National Anthem. The Knights of Columbus Brute Council 1860, based in Emmitsburg, also participated in the Mass.

Afterward, worshipers conversed while enjoying a courtesy dinner provided by the shrine’s staff.

James Cotter of Vienna, Va., retired U.S. Air Force, came on a bus with other pilgrims. He described the Mass as “wonderful” and expressed his enthusiasm for seeing Cardinal McCarrick.

“It’s a really good ceremony, it always has been,” said Michael Weaver, an Army veteran from Gettysburg, Pa., who attended with his daughter, Michelle. “Mother Seton kind of brought the religion to the region.”

Joy and John Murray, a couple from Lanham, said that they thought the Pilgrimage Mass was “beautiful.” They come to the shrine every year for it.

“I really enjoyed it,” said Michelle Rodriguez, who went to the Mass with her father Michael. “It’s interesting to be able to walk around the places a saint walked.”

Carol Birzer, a Navy veteran, spoke highly of the Catholic Choir from the Naval Academy, which had not sung in the previous Pilgrimage for the Sea Masses she had attended at the shrine.

“It’s nice knowing we had a saint here,” said Birzer, of the grounds where Mother Seton she lived and taught.

Tony DiIulio, the program director at the shrine, said he hoped the site’s beauty and history continue to draw people.

“I see (Mother Seton) as a model parent,” he said. “I also think, for anyone who has hard times, she’s a model on how to remain faithful and committed to the Lord.”

Copyright © 2015 Catholic Review Media. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

Beth Watson is ready for her final bow, and when the curtain drops on the final performance of Footloose in the fall, the Thurmont Thespians twenty-year run will come to an end.

“It’s time,” said Watson, adding, “even if it’s going to be hard to give up something you love so much.”

Watson and her husband, Spence, moved to the Thurmont area in 1993 and formed the Thurmont Thespians a few years later. It originally began as an organization to train and inspire young actors and allow them to perform. It eventually expanded into an organization for adults that performed multiple shows each year at the Thurmont American Legion. During that time, it became a cultural staple for Thurmont.

“We both founded it, but it was his genius that got it going, not mine,” expressed Watson.

Watson retired after directing The Fantasticks in March. The performance of Footloose in the fall will be directed by Rosalyn Smaldone, who actually came up through the Thurmont Thespians program, learning her skills first in the children’s workshops, then as an actor with the group, and now finally as a director.

“I think it speaks well for the program that our last production is directed by someone who came through our program,” Watson said.

When Footloose closes, so will the Thurmont Thespians. It will be the sixty-fifth performance staged by the theater group.

“I’m really proud that we produced three original musicals over the years,” Watson said. This includes a play about autism that actually went on tour to Washington, D.C.

Although Watson still loves the stage, she is eighty-one years old and feels it is time to quit. Also, she points out that managing the group has been a heavier burden to run since Spence died in 2014.

Watson’s love of the stage is not surprising. She and Spence met onstage playing opposite each other in a dinner theater in Wilmington, Delaware, in 1980. They were married thirty years.

Out of the sixty-five shows the Thurmont Thespians have performed, her favorite production is The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, which they produced in the middle of the summer. She knew the author of the book and was able to tie in author events with the performances.

She has acted in, as well as directed, shows. She has even been able to perform with family. She and Spence acted together in Gin Game and Love Letters, and she performed with her daughter in Grace and Glorie.

Her main goal with the Thurmont Thespians, though, has always been to teach children to love the theater.

“I love the theater, and I think it teaches kids a lot,” Watson said. “The Thurmont Thespians was also able to provide something they couldn’t get in school.” She estimates that approximately three hundred children have attended the summer workshops for children held every year. Some children came back summer after summer and fell in love with the theater. Others only attended one summer and decided that it wasn’t for them.

However, keeping the program running requires a lot of time and effort. It also requires a lot of fundraising, which she never liked doing.

Once she retires, Watson said the first thing she is going to do is rest and relax.

Beth-Watson

Nathan Kopit, Emily Cofer, Beth Watson, and Rachel Johnson. Nathan, Emily, and Rachel participated in the Thurmont Thespians summer program and had lead roles in the adult production of The Fantasticks in March 2016. Emily and Rachel were both in productions as preschoolers, as they had older siblings in the program.

Beth-Watson-2

Beth Watson is shown teaching students in the Thurmont Thespians Program, her main goal always being to teach children to love the theater.

by Jim Houck, Jr.

Kenneth L. Jones

Private U.S. Army

AMVET-RIDERSKenny was born in Washington, D.C. on December 11, 1962, to James and Phyllis Jones. Right after he was born, his family moved to Bowie, Maryland, and then to Laurel, Maryland, where Kenny lived until he was twenty-one years old. Kenny has one brother (James Jones, Jr.) who lives in Florida.

As a kid, Kenny was taught to respect the military; growing up, he could see what was happening with our military as they were fighting in the Vietnam War. He knew it wasn’t right how our soldiers were being treated at home, and he was disgusted and wished he was old enough to join in the fight. Kenny said that all soldiers who have taken the oath to lay down their life for our country were heroes in his book.

Kenny finally got his chance to join and was so proud when he took the oath, but that happiness was short-lived; he had a hearing problem that cost him a medical discharge.

His father was in World War II and had a gun blow up in his arms; a piece of metal was lodged in his elbow that they couldn’t remove, so he was medically discharged. Now history was repeating itself, because Kenny was completely deaf in his left ear, causing his medical discharge.

Kenny’s grandfather was in World War I and was a victim of mustard gas. Kenny’s best friend found out that he was joining the army, and he asked Kenny if he was an idiot. Kenny asked him what he meant, and his friend asked him if he was willing to lay his life down for this country; Kenny answered, “If I’m not, who is?” He stated that this is our country, and he will fight for it; unfortunately, a Lieutenant Colonel decided Kenny’s fate for him and sent him home.

Kenny said his wife brought him to AMVETS Post 7 for dinner. After meeting some of the members and seeing how friendly they were toward him and how well the Post family worked together, he said he could feel his passion growing; he decided then that he wanted to become a part of this wonderful organization. Shortly after the dinner date with his wife, Candace, Kenny filled out the membership application and was voted in as a member, making him very happy; he immediately got the feeling that he was now serving out the rest of his enlistment. No one could send him home and end his enlistment. Kenny really has a genuine love for AMVETS Post 7 and its family. He said, “It is just a great Post with great people, and it is great to be a part of it.”

Kenny, at that time, had no idea that the AMVETS had Rider chapters, and Kenny had a passion for riding motorcycles. He was out riding with Jim Burns one day; when they got off their bikes, Kenny made the remark that there were enough riders that they could start some kind of club. Jim said he thought that was a great idea and told Kenny about the AMVET Riders. Jim told Kenny if he would like to start one at Post 7, he would help in any way he could. Kenny sat on the idea and didn’t do anything about it. One day, he and Jim were sitting at the bar watching television, and Jim tapped him on the leg and asked him, “Hey, how’s that Riders chapter coming?” Kenny told him he didn’t think he could do it, but he mentioned it to the Commander—at that time—Tom Joy; Tom was very supportive. Kenny mentioned it to two other AMVET members: Pete Twentey and Bob O’Neal, who he knew personally. Pete had started the American Legion Riders at a Frederick Post, and they thought it was a great idea; Pete and Bob offered their support but did not want to be officers, because they had already been in the official positions.

Mike Mahoney heard about it and pushed Kenny; Ed and Donny McKinnon supported the move, also. With all the support, Kenny thought they could actually start the club. He went online and started researching. Kenny asked his wife, already knowing Candi would support anything he would like to try. He put out a sign-up sheet and announced what his plans were; the next thing he knew, there were twenty-some names on the sheet.

Next, Kenny scheduled a night to meet for all of those who were interested. At the meeting, they took a vote for Charter and all the officers were voted in; they received their Charter in December of 2014. They celebrated their first-year anniversary this past December 2015. Kenny said he wasn’t sure he had a real goal in mind when he first started; he just knew he wanted to start something involving motorcycles. The biggest thing for Kenny was that he could take the mission outside of Post 7; they have their own vests they wear and their own patches.

Kenny said he remembers telling his wife the first time she mentioned going to the AMVETS for dinner, that you, “don’t go to the AMVETS for dinner, you go there for clothing.” He had only heard of the AMVETS Thrift Store, not the AMVETS Veterans Organization.

The newly formed AMVETS Riders Post 7 branch met a few times and fumbled their way through the meetings. Kenny said the Veteran Members, The Sons of AMVETS, and the Ladies Auxiliary were very supportive. He expressed that he just can’t get over how our Post 7 family made them feel so welcomed, and it amazes him at what a great Post it is. It never dawned on Kenny that they needed money to operate the Riders club; all three family members chipped in to donate some money for operating expenses for the new family branch. The AMVET Riders held some fundraisers that turned out well, and they were on their way to helping support Veterans and the community. Kenny truly believes that we are our brothers’ keepers, and our community is only as strong as we make it; all funds taken in at functions will be used for these ends.

Kenny expressed that they are very fortunate to have twenty quality members now that are as dedicated as he is in doing what is good for Post 7 and its family. “It is not the number of people we have, but the quality of the people, and I have the privilege of being a part of it.” Kenny sees the passion flowing at every meeting held and the belief in what they are doing, and he thinks it is awesome. They have grown in the past year, and he knows their spirit will continue to grow stronger because of our great family at AMVETS Post 7. Since AMVET Riders have been chartered, they have been able to contribute donations to Hero Dogs three times (they specialize in training dogs to aid vets) and to North Pointe Veterans Home numerous times. They rode up to enjoy time with the Veterans being rehabilitated at North Pointe and to have dinner with them. They made a large donation to disabled Veterans and a large donation to Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Over the Christmas holiday, they found two local families that had a member of their family deployed (one in Germany and one in Japan), so 2nd Vice Sandi Reed Burns put together two care packages—$100 each—and sent them to the deployed members to make them feel somewhat at home. Kenny said they have also donated to Post 7, because without their support, the Riders wouldn’t exist.

In a little over a year, the Riders have donated over $2,000 to various causes. That is certainly an accomplishment, and one that makes them very proud. Kenny stated that they are setting a goal of over $3,000 in donations for 2016, and I am sure they will do it with all the determination and drive they have. They are also planning a poker run in the near future. Kenny and the Riders were in the Emmitsburg Heritage Day Parade last year, and have received an invitation again for this year’s parade. Kenny is so proud of the fact that he is a part of such a wonderful group of people as the AMVETS Post 7 family. He said that he would love to see the chapter have forty or fifty members, but members who would be dedicated and proud to ride with them and join in and help with functions, not just to show up at the bar for the cheap drinks.

Pride and dedication are the main factors required at all family branches of AMVETS Post 7, including the Riders. Paying dues and never participating in meetings and functions is not what pride and dedication is all about. Our families at Post 7 are givers, and we are also receivers, in that we receive so much satisfaction and pride by giving to the veterans and to our community.

Kenny is full of pride from all the good that is done at Post 7 by the Veteran members, Sons, Ladies, and Riders, and he is very proud to be the president of this AMVETS Rider Chapter. He is also excited about The American Legion, VFW, and AMVETS working together to pay tribute to a True Marine Hero from Camp David who stopped to help change a flat tire and was killed by a hit-and-run driver (who has not been found yet), by having a sign put on the Catoctin Furnace Historic Trail bridge that crosses U.S. Rt. 15, just a short distance from where CPL William Kyle Ferrell was killed. The sign will read: Bridge Dedicated to CPL WILLIAM KYLE FERRELL United States Marine Corps. As soon as all the dates and details are available, you will be able to read about it in The Catoctin Banner. Kenny is very passionate about letting people know what kind of hero this young marine was.

Kenny invites all American Veterans, Sons of American Veterans, Daughters of American Veterans, and Wives of American Veterans, who are not members, to come in as guests and talk to our families or attend an event and watch how everyone works together. See if you can get as excited as most of us are about an organization that actually cares about our Veterans and our community.

AMVET Riders Chapter 7 Officers are as follows: Kenny Jones—President; Wendy Clevenger—1st Vice President; Sandi Reed Burns—2nd Vice President; Doris Twentey—Treasurer; Candace Jones—Secretary; Jay Shown—Sergeant-at-Arms; Pete Forrest—Judge Advocate; Nick Alexandra—Chaplain.

Kenny is the “real deal” when it comes to pride in being the president of the Riders and when it comes to his beliefs in AMVETS Post 7. So if you meet him on the street or at Post 7, stop and say “Hi” to him and mention bikes, Veterans, or our community, then hang on, because he will show you what pride is all about—you will see what a great soldier he would have been and how he is carrying it out now in his own way.

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

Upon Pope Francis’ arrival at the White House on September 23, 2015, in Washington, D.C., President Barack Obama presented him with the original key to the home of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton. The key once opened the door of her home, the Stone House, in Emmitsburg, on the grounds of The National Shrine of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton.

Presented in a case crafted specifically for the occasion, the key honors both His Holiness Pope Francis and Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton.

“This gift is a fitting tribute,” said Rob Judge, Executive Director of The National Shrine of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton, “to a woman who opened doors for so many women to serve the poor, and for a man who has been a strong advocate for those who are poor and marginalized.”

“It is humbling,” said Judge, “to know that Pope Francis literally holds the key to Mother Seton’s home, where we welcome tens of thousands of visitors every year. People of all faiths are drawn here to learn the story of her life and legacy.”

Go to www.setonshrine.org for a short biography and photos of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton, as well as photos of her home and Basilica.

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.

 

by Jim Houck, Jr.

Loren “Curly” W. Kruen

 

 

E-6 U.S. Navy (Retired)

Loren was born to Lawrence W. and Clorence Kruen in a small town in Minnesota in the northeast corner named Edgerton, population approximately three thousand, a farming community. Curly grew up with two brothers, Donovan and Carroll “Buck”, and two sisters, Lois and June. Curly and his brother Donovan are the only surviving members of his family today. When he was about twelve years old, the family moved to Tracy, Minnesota where he attended Tracy Public High School. Curly, at twelve years old, went to work on a farm for his brother-in-law on breaks from school and holidays.

Curly graduated from Tracy Public High School in 1960 and soon after decided to join the military because he had a lot of family – uncles, brothers, etc., in the military. He was very proud of them and decided it was the future for him. Curly wanted it to be his choice and not the draft boards, he chose the Navy.

On July 20, 1960, he went to boot camp in San Diego, California at the recruit training center. He then went to Naval School in Pensacola, Florida. After graduating there, he was sent to Camtasia, Japan for another field school before they sent him to Guam where he was stationed at the Naval Communication Center for ten months. For some reason, he was transferred from Guam early to Okinawa, at Troy Station. While Curly was at Okinawa in 1963, they asked for volunteers for a detachment to go to Vietnam and he volunteered. He went to Vietnam and landed aboard the USS Hancock where he was stationed for three months. When the Hancock was rotated back to Hawaii, it was replaced by another carrier, the USS Midway. Curly was transferred back and was on the Hancock until March of 1964.

He then returned to Okinawa. He was debriefed and spent another six months there before being transferred to the Naval Communications Center in Washington D.C., a small base in the woods south of Andrews Air Force Base. Curly was there for two years after which he was sent to the USS Liberty, home ported in Norfolk, Virginia. The day after Curly reported there, they pulled out to sea. They were on a mission off the west coast of Africa, up and down, for almost six months, returned to Norfolk for a couple of weeks and then went back out again on another mission on the west coast of Africa. When they were on port call at Accra on the Ivory coast for one day  making their rounds of the bars, the shore patrol came and got them and told them they had to get back to the ship immediately because they were pulling out.

The ship had received orders to head straight for the Mediterranean Sea. Curly didn’t know where they were headed, but he had a suspicion they were headed for the eastern Mediterranean where things were getting awfully hot between Israel and Egypt. That was during the Six-Day War where Israel, in Curly’s words “kicked the hell out of Egypt.” His suspicion was right, because they headed for the war zone.

The Liberty was a non-combatant ship and had no guns except four World War II .50-cal. machine guns. They were sent with no protection and no cover whatsoever. Just a couple of days off the Sinai Peninsula, they were attacked by air and sea by Israeli Forces, our ally. They were first attacked by air. The planes that attacked them were unmarked. At the time, they had no idea who was attacking them. They thought it was the Egyptians because Israel was an ally. The fact that there were no identifiable markings on the planes had them really puzzled.

The Liberty was hit from forward to aft with rockets and tandem fire, striking a bunch of men, including Curly, who had just assembled on the port side of the ship towards the fantail and were waiting to go on watch at 4 o’clock. They were just standing around smoking cigarettes like sailors tend to do and were missed by the tandem fire by about fifteen feet. As soon as they were hit, a message came over the intercom for general quarters battle stations. Curly said they all scrambled down below. Some of the guys on deck got hit by the tandem fire. The rockets hit the bridge and blew that apart and several guys were killed on the deck and bridge. Curly’s battle station was down in his work station and orders were that if he had to, he was to destroy all records. He and some other guys were demolishing all classified equipment and paper work. They were an intelligence-gathering ship, or in other words, a spy ship. Curly was down there for quite a while. He could hear the bullets from cannons and rocket fire and they were being hit left and right. All but one of their life rafts were destroyed and all of their communicating antennas were knocked out, so they couldn’t call for help. One of the radiomen managed to get out, fix one antenna, and was able to send an SOS to the rest of the fleet located next to Crete, hundreds of miles away from the Liberty and her crew. Curly said after the planes hit them, there were three Israeli torpedo boats that fired – what some guys said was five torpedoes, but Curly said he only knows of two of them. He said one went about twenty feet aft and missed the ship, but the other one hit them dead center in their working spaces where he was located. When that torpedo hit, it killed twenty-five of his buddies. They had been warned about bullets coming through the side of the ship, so they all made as small a target of themselves as they could. They were laying down on the deck of the compartment with their feet pointed to the outside the bulkhead of the ship. That way, if any bullets did hit them, it would hit their feet and not their head. Curly said no bullets hit them, but the torpedo did. The guy that laid next to him about a foot away, instantly disappeared – just blown away. Curly was blown up into the air. While he was in the air, he thought for quite a while about his fiancée because they had planned to be married the next time he pulled back in to Norfolk. He remembers thinking, or saying out loud, he doesn’t remember which, “I am so sorry, Judy.” That was the last he remembers. He lost consciousness, he doesn’t know for how long. When Curly came to, he was laying in salt water. Mediterranean Sea water was coming through the hole the torpedo made in the side of the ship. He remembered thinking “This is warm,” it was a hot day.

The ship was listing to the starboard side where the water came in and filled the compartments. Curly didn’t know what to do because he said his brains were scrambled. He lay there a few minutes, got up, and said, “I’ve got to get the heck out of here,” but he didn’t know what to do or where to go because the whole compartment was absolutely pitch black. He said he could have scratched his nose and never seen his hand. He sustained a concussion from the torpedo blast that made him temporarily deaf. He could hear nothing, but had pressure like you get at high altitude. Curly couldn’t see or hear, but over to his left was a very gray faint light that gave off no illumination, just a pale gray light. He figured that had to be the hole in the side where the water came in, so he stood up and headed towards that hole. He figured anything that could blow a hole like that could also blow away the deck. He could easily, at any time, just step off into space and he would be gone.

He headed toward that light, but he had to shuffle his feet instead of taking a step, so he would not step off into the hole.  He had to slide his feet so he could feel where the edge of the hole would be. Curly was sliding along and kicked a body. He bent down to see if he could do anything to find out if he was alive or dead, but the body was under about three feet of water. When Curly reached down for him, there was no life response from him. Curly tried to pick him up, but he couldn’t because he thinks something was laying across him holding him down—or maybe he didn’t have the strength to lift him. Either way, there was no response from him and Curly knew he was dead. He had no idea who the sailor was, so he sat down for a couple of minutes next to him until he decided he had to do something to get the heck out of there, because if he stayed, he would die with him.

Curly got up again and headed for the pale light. The closer he got to it, his ears started to work again. He could hear shouting and he said, “Thank God, I’m not alone.” He said he heard a horrible sound, but to hear any sound at that time Curly said was Heaven. He saw other guys standing at the ladder.  There was only one ladder to get up out of that hole to the upper deck. For some reason, the ladder didn’t come down. If it would have, he would not have survived. Curly could have dived out through that hole in the side. He found out later that if he had, he would probably have been shot.

The torpedo boats were circling the ship and shooting at anyone showing themselves in any way. He got lucky by staying inside the ship. His comrades opened the hatch above them and they started to climb out. They had a bunch of injured that had to be taken care of, and they managed to get them all out. Curly and the crew took the injured to the mess deck which was turned into a medical station. He said they carried quite a few of the wounded with arms missing and torsos torn open. They turned them over to the medics. They only had one doctor and a couple of corpsmen. There were some guys that weren’t wounded that helped and they laid the wounded out on tables on the mess deck and the medics took over from there.

Curly said thirty-four men were killed and one hundred and seventy-one wounded, including himself. The total number of able-bodied men aboard before the strike was two hundred and ninety. The count after the strike was eighty-five able-bodied men.

Curly said the heck with it he was going up on deck and help with what he could because there was so much to do. He joined a working party that went around and picked up the bodies of the nine men that were killed on deck. Curly said he knew he had been hit in the back but he couldn’t see it, so he went ahead and joined the party picking up bodies. They picked up two of his buddies’ bodies at the forward machine gun mounts. They wrapped them up and put them in the line locker where they keep all the ships mooring lines and laid them out on the lines. Curly said he was ashamed to say he had to quit because his back was killing him, plus he had broken bones in his right foot. When he quit, he was going to go down to the mess deck and turn himself in to the medics. He had to stop and lean over the rail of the ship to ease the pain in his back. A chief petty officer came over. He was going to talk to Curly, but when he saw the blood on the back of his shirt and pants the Chief said, “Buddy, you are coming with me now.” He took Curly down to the mess decks and turned him over to the medics. They put him on the table. By that time, there had been so many seriously injured, they were running out of all medications. The only things the medic could do was put a battle dressing on Curly’s back and give him two aspirins. The Chief that brought him down got a Navy coffee cup, which is about a half a cup larger than a kitchen or restaurant cup, and filled it with whiskey. No one is supposed to have whiskey aboard ship, but he put just enough coffee in it to give it color to look like coffee. The chief gave it to Curly and told him not to tell anyone where it came from. Curly made the Chief a promise he keeps to this day; he said until he dies, he’ll never give the Chief’s name. He said he feels that cup of whiskey did more for him than all the pain killers they would normally have had, could have done for him. He said that was the best cup of coffee he has ever had in his life.

They had no protection during the whole time they were there and no help from anybody. They went through that night scared that at any time they could be attacked again or a bulkhead could buckle under the water pressure. If that would have happened, the ship would have gone down with them all aboard. They had watches out for any approaching aircraft or boats or anything else. Watches were also set to continuously check for water leaks and any bulkhead that may be buckling under that pressure. Since only a third of the crew was left that could do anything, and that’s not many men, Curly said he thinks they had some help from above because no planes came and no bulkheads buckled until the next morning.

Eighteen hours later they joined with four other ships. The America, being a medical ship, sent over some supplies and personnel by helicopter. The Davis tied up alongside of them and sent over a whole bunch of medical personnel, engineers, damage control people, and electricians – Curly said, “You name it, they sent it over. They took over the ship, except for command of it. They took over everything that needed to be done. They sent over stretchers and crutches and everything.” They started to take the critically injured patients above deck. The most seriously injured went first. By the time they got to Curly, there were no stretchers left. They gave him a pair of crutches. He went over next to the ladder ready to climb up on deck and he saw this other sailor who had a mangled leg. He didn’t have a crutch. The sailor was being helped by a friend of his and he was having a pretty hard time of it. Curly gave him one of his and fell in behind him. Between Curly and the sailor’s friend, they got him up on deck. When they got up on deck the sailor wanted to give Curly his crutch back, but he wouldn’t take it back. Curly said the grateful look on the sailor’s face got him right in the heart. Curly said he didn’t know him because he was from a different division on the ship and he went off to where his people were gathered on the ship.

Curly went up forward to the ship by himself with one crutch to be air lifted aboard a chopper for transport to the carrier USS America. Once aboard, the America crew took them in hand and helped them down into their hospital. They were a great bunch of guys and really did a good job, according to Curly. When they got down in their hospital they had to go through triage which is a process for sorting injured people into groups based on their need for medical attention. Curly went through triage. He waited two days before they got to him, because the doctors were working twenty-four hours a day in the operating rooms since there were that many wounded. By the time they got to Curly, they took him in, fixed his foot, and then performed surgery on his back. They dug shrapnel out of his spine and when they did, they made a hole too big to close. So, he was walking around with an open hole in his back. Curly was there for two weeks and then they put him in a helicopter and he left the USS America for Naples, Italy to a Naval Hospital where they did surgery again. This time, they closed the hole in his back. He was there a week when he was transferred to Frankfort, Germany to an Army Hospital for another week. There, he just lay around and healed.

Curly then flew by military plane from Rhein-Main Air Base back to the United States and landed at Andrews Air Force Base. It was a full plane-load and the wounded were sent all over America to different hospitals. Curly, being engaged to be married, chose Washington, D.C. He was sent to the Navy Hospital at Bethesda, Maryland. He said he thought that was great because that’s where the President went, and if it was good enough for the President of the USA, it was good enough for Curly. While he was there, the stitches were removed from his back. He spent a month going through therapy.

On August 10, 1967, three days after being discharged from the hospital, he was married. Curly’s new bride was Judith Lee who was a descendant of General Robert E. Lee. He was then transferred to Norfolk, Virginia to the naval Communications Station. He was given three medals: Combat Action, Purple Heart, and the Presidential Unit Citation. Curly was at Norfolk for a year, then transferred to Rhoda Naval Base in Spain. While there, he was awarded the Navy Meritorious Unit Commendation “That ended the Liberty incident,” Curly said. He remained in Rhoda, Spain for four years. Curly was sent there for three years, but at the end of three years, the Navy ran out of money, so they delayed all transfers for another year. He lived there in a Spanish town for four years and said they had a ball and loved it there.

Curly was then transferred to Turks Island in the British West Indies, just off Florida, and he was on isolated duty there for a year. His family couldn’t go with him. He and Judy bought a house in Lanham, Maryland and his family stayed there. Curly was then transferred to Bermuda for a year. He said he hated that place. It was no place for him. He said it was beautiful, but duty there was bad.

Curly was next transferred to the aircraft carrier USS Independence for two years.  He loved it. They made several cruises; one was in the middle of winter. They went up the North Atlantic and across the Arctic Circle to see if they could hold flight ops, war games, in those conditions. They went to Northern Norway. Curly said it was rough up there. For an aircraft carrier, they were bobbing around like corks. They couldn’t run flight ops, but they chipped tons and tons of ice off the flight deck; otherwise, it would have gotten too heavy and they wouldn’t have been able to handle it. Curly said, “Cold! My gosh, whoever said salt water doesn’t freeze should go up there in the middle of winter.” He said when you cross the Arctic Circle you become a blue nose. They finished their flight ops there and then pulled into Portsmouth, England for down time. Two years later, Curly came back to the states again and was stationed at the Naval Communications Station at Annapolis, just across the water from the Naval Academy. After two years there, he was again transferred to another ship, the USS Guam, a landing platform for helicopters. While Curly was on there, he was part of a Master of Arms Force. He said it’s like a police department in town. He spent a year on the USS Guam. He retired May 30, 1980, and the ship was in dry dock at the time at the Philadelphia Naval Yard.

That completed twenty years of service for Curly. He went back to his home in Lanham, Maryland to be with his wife, Judy. He went to work in D.C. for Press Releases Wire, a news wire service where he was a wire chief for six years. Curly and the family moved from Lanham to Thurmont in 1986. He has two sons, Tom and Ed, a daughter Darlene, three grandsons and two granddaughters. His oldest boy, Tom, lives in Smithsburg, Maryland, His second son is Ed who lives in Flugerville, Texas and his youngest, Darlene, lives in Taneytown, Maryland. Tom has three children, one son and two daughters, Ed has one son, Corey, and Darlene has a son, Joshua. Curly said he worked for so many years behind closed doors in the intelligence field, it was a breath of fresh air to be able to drive a truck over the road and see the sunshine. He drove for several different companies since moving to Thurmont in 1986: Bowers Lumber, J&R Transports, Delauter Construction Company and Home Run, hauling oversized loads.  After twelve years, he retired. Curly’s wife, Judith, had a heart attack and needed care. He took leave, turned sixty-two, then quit any jobs. He retired. For eight years, he was his wife’s care-giver. Curly lost her two and a half years ago. Since then he’s been on his own. He told me that he has never told his story to anyone, even his family, and that I am the first to hear it. He said he felt it was time for his children to hear the story and reading it would be a good way. He had to stop several times while telling his story to me and I can understand why. It was getting to me emotionally and I didn’t live it. I only heard it from Curly.

I know that Curly is the true definition of Hero. When you see him, shake his hand and thank him for sacrificing so much to serve our country.

I am so proud to have met and talked with Curly. Thank you and may God Bless you, Curly.