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Veteran’s Memorial to be dedicated

By Staff | May 15, 2015

On Friday, May 22, The Harpers Ferry/Bolivar District Veterans Association, in partnership with the Harpers Ferry Middle School, will dedicate a new wayside exhibit at the existing military veterans memorial on the school grounds.

The creation of this exhibit was collaborative effort between David Guiney, Interpretive Design LLC, in Harpers Ferry, Ruth Bielobocky of Iondesign in Frederick, Maryland and the Harpers Ferry/Bolivar District Veterans Association. The new wayside exhibit was created to highlight critical historic periods in our nation’s history and the military experiences of certain Jefferson County military veterans during those periods. But it is much more than that. The entire memorial is dedicated to all of the men and women of Jefferson County who have proudly worn the uniforms of our military services.

A brief synopsis of five veterans were chosen to be included in the exhibit. The historic periods selected were the John Brown raid in 1859, World War I, World War II, Korea, Vietnam and the middle eastern conflicts.

Although he was not a Jefferson County resident, Marine Private Luke Quinn was chosen because of his involvement and subsequent death during John Brown’s Raid on Harpers Ferry in October 1859.

Frank Buckles was chosen because of his mark in history as being the last remaining U.S. Army World War I “Doughboy.” He was 110 years and 26 days old when he passed away on Feb. 27, 2011.

Navy Lt. Olen D. Glaize was selected because of his service in the Navy during World War II and Korea. Lt. Glaize was from Charles Town and joined the Navy towards the end of World War II. After the war Mr. Glaize became the Justice of the Peace in Charles Town. He served in that capacity until the outbreak of the Korean War when he was recalled to duty. On Oct. 2, 1953 he was flying his F9F Panther jet when he became involved in a mid-air collision with another aircraft. The pilot of the other aircraft survived. Lt. Glaize did not and his body was never recovered.

Harry Biller grew up here in Harpers Ferry, was an alumni of Harpers Ferry High School and a member of the Harpers Ferry/Bolivar District Veterans Association. He spent over 20 years in the U.S. Air Force, was highly decorated, and obtained the highest rank available to an enlisted man, Chief Master Sergeant. Biller’s expertise was aircraft camera repairman and photographer. He spent three tours in Vietnam and flew on 50 combat missions.

George Pucciarelli, known affectionately as “Father Pooch,” has lived in Jefferson County for more than 10 years. He served several years as Assistant Pastor of St. James Catholic Church in Charles Town, as well as the historic St. Peters Catholic Church in Harpers Ferry. He is currently pastor of St. Bernadette’s Church in Hedgesville. Father “Pooch” has had a long and storied career, both as a civilian and as military chaplain. In May of 1983, he deployed with the 24th U.S. Marine Amphibious Unit to Beirut, Lebanon. On Oct. 23, 1983, a lone terrorist drove a truck loaded with explosives into the lobby of the battalion landing team headquarters building, killing 241 American servicemen (220 Marines, 18 sailors, 3 soldiers). Over the course of the next five days and nights, he was besieged with calls for help from dying and wounded personnel, from Marines desperately searching for missing friends, and from others who were in grief-stricken shock. For his outstanding service throughout his career, he was awarded the Legion of Merit.

Included within the exhibit are names of Jefferson County men who were listed as “Killed in Action and/or Prisoners of War”. Five in World War I, 57 in World War II, 15 in Korea, seven in Vietnam and one in the Gulf War.

Pictured in the lower right corner of the exhibit panel is the USS Harpers Ferry. USS Harpers Ferry (LSD-49) is the lead ship of her class of landing ship dock. USS Harpers Ferry is assigned to the Navy’s “Amphibious Group 1”. Harpers Ferry was laid down on 15 April 1991, at the Avondale Shipyards in New Orleans, and she was launched on 16 January 1993. She was commissioned on 7 January 1995. Her homeport is in San Diego.

Research for this project has created a lengthy database of Jefferson County veteran names with associated historical information. This information has been complied into an expandable roster entitled “Jefferson County Veterans Memorial Roster” and will be available for viewing at the Bolivar Public Library. There are 1,583 veteran names and associated information contained in this roster.

West Virginia Delegate Stephen Skinner and Ms. Kathleen Stotler, Veteran Affairs Liaison of Senator Shelley Moore Capito’s office, have accepted invitations to this event. You are cordially invited to attend this dedication on Friday, May 22, 10:00am, at the Harpers Ferry Middle School.

For more information, please contact Mr. Eric Vandell, principal, Harpers Ferry Middle School at 304-535-6357 or myself.