Legion honors gulf at ceremonyDuring a tribute to World...

DESERT STORM -- Notes from the home front

February 14, 1991

Legion honors gulf at ceremony

During a tribute to World War II heroes, members of Parkville American Legion Post No. 183 honored the Americans who are fighting in the Persian Gulf.

"We would like . . . to salute those young men and women who are now serving their country for the cause of freedom," said one veteran, a singer in the post's "Balladiers," who sang the anthems of the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines.

The Parkville post each year honors four World War II chaplains who sacrificed their lives to save soldiers aboard the U.S.S. Dorchester, a troop ship sunk by a German submarine on Feb. 3, 1943.

The four chaplains -- a priest, rabbi and two ministers -- surrendered their life preservers to soldiers as the ship sank in icy waters just off Greenland.

As the ship went down, survivors said, the clergymen held hands and recited the Lord's Prayer.

The ceremony was held at the Parkville American Legion Hall on Putty Hill Road, the largest post in Maryland with more than 4,000 members. More than 200 veterans attended.

ASTLE REPORTING TO DUTY

Del. John Astle, D-Anne Arundel, is to report today to the Marine Corps Mobilization Station in Aberdeen.

Astle, 47, gave a farewell speech in the House of Delegates yesterday.

"War is a deadly serious business and I've stepped onto a path into an unknown direction," he said.

"Before it's over, the cost may become dear," said the graying Marine reserve.

Astle served previously in the military during the Vietnam War where he was shot down twice and wounded twice as a pilot.

Astle was called to active duty earlier this month after he lobbied officials at the Pentagon to activate him.

From Aberdeen, Astle will be transferred to Camp Lejeune, N.C. From there, Astle said, he has no idea where he will be sent.

He plans to retain his seat to which he was re-elected in November.

He said he will keep in touch with his staff and constituents with tapes and letters.

Some agencies you may not associate with wartime want people in the Baltimore area to know that they provide an array of services for families of service members in the Persian Gulf region.

Through the Salvation Army, the American Red Cross and United Way, families can receive financial assistance in emergencies, including help with rent and mortgage payments, utility bills, food bills, medical prescriptions, travel and child-care assistance.

First Call for Help, a 24-hour phone service sponsored by United Way, has been averaging 150 calls a week, most of them from families, since the war began a month ago.

In order to provide such services, the Salvation Army has set up a "War Relief Fund." Donations can be sent to "Operation We Care," the Salvation Army Divisional Headquarters, P.O. Box 7290, Baltimore, 21218.

BALTIMORE SAILOR PART OF ISLAND TAKEOVER

The Public Affairs Division of the Navy has provided this update on Leon J. Frederick, a deckhand from Baltimore stationed on the guided missile frigate, the USS Curts.

Frederick has been in the gulf for three months on what he terms "intensive standby." On Jan. 24, the Curts took back the Kuwaiti island of Qurah, an action that lasted about six hours. Fifty-one Iraqis were taken prisoner and three were killed in the battle for the island.

The crew members -- whose average age is estimated at 20 or 21 -- "probably saw more action that day then they have ever seen in their entire careers," according to the Navy's report on Frederick.

Frederick, a 1989 graduate of Mergenthaler Vocational-Technical High School, gave a straightforward account of his duties on ship. "My job is working in deck force division, which maintains the ship's cleanliness and appearance. When the ship is under way, I take turns with other deckhands steering the ship or standing lookout. I'm also on the refueling team."

Frederick said that letters from friends and family have helped him break the tension of the past three months. "It has been phenomenal," he said of his haul at mail call.

The Pentagon has set up special, 24-hour telephone lines to be used by relatives of military personnel seeking information about the status of family members stationed in the Persian Gulf.

Here are the numbers, by service:

* Army 1-800-626-1440

* Air Force 1-800-253-9276

* Marines 1-800-523-2694

* Coast Guard 1-800-367-8724

* Navy (immediate family members) 1-800-255-3808

* Navy (other relatives and friends) 1-800-732-1206

Callers should provide as much information as possible about rank, Social Security number and military unit. Members of the immediate family may contact local Red Cross chapters to send emergency messages.

If you have an interesting story of how the war is affecting life on the home front, please call 332-6478.

PERSIAN GULF SHOWDOWN

Laura Lippman and the Associated Press contributed to this story.

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