Deb Abraham Spalding
You’ve probably heard the phrase, “Freedom isn’t free,” especially around Memorial Day, Veterans Day, and Independence Day, as a reminder of the sacrifice others have made to protect our freedom. This past Memorial Day, the official dedication ceremony of the Moser Road bridge and Trolley Trail foot bridge in Thurmont to two Thurmont Marines who were killed in action in Vietnam reminded those in attendance that there is a price for freedom.
The Moser Road bridge was dedicated, and signage unveiled, to honor SGT Woodrow Franklin “Frank” Carbaugh USMC. The Trolley Trail foot bridge was dedicated, and signage unveiled, to honor PFC Charles R. Pittinger USMC. These two young men were raised in Thurmont, and upon graduating from Thurmont High School in the 1960s, each enlisted or was drafted into the United States Marine Corps.
They were both killed in action by wounds received from hostile forces in Vietnam. They gave their lives in service to our nation, for our freedom.
The signage that is visible from both directions as you approach the bridges will serve as an on-going opportunity for travelers to remember and give thanks.
At a luncheon hosted by the volunteers at the Edwin C. Creeger, Jr. American Legion on Park Lane in Thurmont, dedication ceremony host Gary Spegal, Frederick County Commander and Thurmont American Legion Honor Guard OIC, gave the official welcome to the dual dedication of the Trolley Trail foot bridge and the Moser Road bridge spanning over Big Hunting Creek in Thurmont.
Commander Spegal said, “Read the names, reflect, and consider the sacrifice for the values that these two men fought for and died for. They inspire all of us to pray for our country’s leaders to seek peaceful settlements to our disputes.” He added, “One of the things our nation could have done better is welcoming home our Veterans who fought in Southeast Asia. It’s been half a century and their legacy has faded.” Locally, the bridge dedication will be a reminder to those who pass.
Thurmont’s Mayor John Kinnaird said, “The memory of the day when news arrived about the deaths of both Charlie and Woodie sticks clearly in my mind. I think it is appropriate that these bridges be dedicated in their names today. Bridges physically transport us from one point to another, but these bridges will now take us back in time. Each time we cross these bridges, we will remember Charlie and Woody…as the local boys we knew as family, neighbors, and friends…and the sacrifices these young men made for our community and our nation.”
On the bridge site, Ella Renner, the American Auxiliary Jr. Unit 168’s Poppy Princess, assisted Unit 168 Poppy Chairperson Angela Spegal to install red poppy flowers on each of the sign posts. The red flower of the poppy represents the blood of our fallen.
Deacon John Hawkins provided the blessing of the bridges. “Chewy,” a Veteran memorial vehicle, sounded the guns in salute.
Attendees moved from the official dedication location at the bridges to the ceremony location at the Edwin C. Creeger, Jr. American Legion on Park Lane in Thurmont.
Here, Scouts of Troop 270 Color Guard performed the Presentation of Colors.
During this touching ceremony, music was enjoyed, attendees sang the Marine Corps Hymn, and several people shared fond memories.
Sandy Seidel, mother of 1st Lt. Robert Seidel, presented a print of Robert’s poem “War” that was written in honor of Charles Pittinger to the Pittinger family. As an elementary-aged boy in Emmitsburg in the 1990s, young Robbie Seidel, learned from his uncle Larry Pittinger, about another uncle, Charles Pittinger, who had lost his life in Vietnam. He wrote the poem “War” in Charles’ honor. Little Robbie later became 1st Lt. Robert Seidel, who was killed in action while serving our country in Iraqi Freedom in May 2006.
Sgt. David Carter USMC traveled from Morristown, Tennessee, to the ceremony to talk about his tour with Sgt. Woodrow Franklin “Frank” Carbaugh. He said, “His tour of duty ran parallel with mine. I met Frank in January 1967. We received orders together. I will never forget him. He was the most Christian man I have ever known. A man of great character.”
Larry Pittinger, representing his brother John and sister Ann, spoke about their brother PFC Charles R. Pittinger. He shared that in preparation, American Legion Cmdr. Gary Spegal gave him a project to locate photos and memorabilia to display at the event.
Larry said, “For me, this request is the most rewarding part of the past eight months. Because of this request, photos that were packed away were unpacked and enjoyed again. Letters written more than 50 years ago were re-read. Through these letters, I learned of Charlie’s plans to buy a Corvette when he returned home. In a follow-up letter, he said that he may have to switch to his plan B, which was getting his ’57 Chevy on the road because of a change in the State of Maryland’s insurance rates.”
Larry continued, “He wrote of his frustration of walking through about four inches of mud to return to the base camp while carrying the M79 that was nicknamed the “Blooper” and carrying other gear that almost weighed as much as himself. Next, I found a website for Lima 35. Some of these Vets called me and shared their personal experiences. I am not a military Veteran, but after talking to these four Marine Vets, I have a deeper understanding of the kinship and the bond Veterans have for one another. To all Veterans, thank you for your service.”
“Thank you all for honoring my brother PFC Charles Robert Pittinger.”
The ceremony closed with the Benediction by Deacon John Hawkins and the Retirement of Colors by Scouts of Troop 270.
Photos by Deb Abraham Spalding
The Moser Road Bridge named in honor of Sgt. Carbaugh.