Carroll Co. to rededicate tribute to Korean War dead Ceremonies tomorrow mark addition of 3 names

July 24, 1998|By John Murphy | John Murphy,SUN STAFF

In 1949, Charles K. Eckard, a shy 17-year-old who pumped gas at a Shell station in Westminster, yearned to see the world. He joined the Army Reserve and became one of the first troops to land in Korea in 1950.

Two days after his arrival, he was killed in battle. His body was never found.

Eckard was the first Carroll County resident to die in the Korean War. Ten more followed.

In the years after the war, the 11 men were, for the most part, forgotten. It took more than 40 years before a memorial was built for them, and even then the memory was incomplete. Three names were missing.

Tomorrow, family members, friends, military and county officials will gather outside Westminster City Hall to rededicate the granite memorial. Three missing names have been added: Pvt. Charles K. Eckard, 1st Lt. Nelson E. Fenwick and Cpl. James H. Nusbaum.

'Long overdue'

"It's overdue, very, very long overdue," said Harry Brown, Eckard's boyhood friend from Westminster.

For County Commissioner W. Benjamin Brown, the memorial ends a project he began nearly eight years ago. In 1990, while walking back from the dedication of the Vietnam War Memorial, Brown learned that no such memorial existed for the Korean War.

"It bothered me that these were missing persons. I had a sense of guilt," said Brown, then mayor of Westminster.

Brown wrote to the Department of Defense, requesting a list of names of Carroll County residents killed in the Korean War. He received a letter containing seven names.

Before the names were etched on the memorial, Brown received a call from a relative of Cpl. Charles A. Billingslea, a gunner on a B-26 Marauder bomber whose plane disappeared over North Korea in 1952. Billingslea was not on the list. Brown added the name and decided it was an oversight.

"You'd figure the Defense Department data was accurate," he said.

He figured wrong.

'Only thing I wanted'

One week after the Carroll County Korean War Memorial was unveiled in 1995, Brown received a call from Eckard's sister, informing him that her brother's name had been left off the memorial.

"The only thing I wanted was to have his name on there, because that was right," said Betty Flickinger, Eckard's sister, who lives in Union Mills.

Brown decided to conduct a new search of residents who died in the war, but this time he did not rely on the Department of Defense. Instead, he decided to look at local newspaper obituaries printed during the Korean War, 1950 to 1953.

Brown drafted his son to do the job. For four days, Jesse Brown, now 19, paged through yellowed copies of the Carroll County Times and Democratic Advocate.

Two others

His search turned up two more names: Fenwick and Nusbaum.

Fenwick of Sykesville was a student at Polytechnic Institute in Baltimore and a member of the 110th Field Artillery Battalion of the Maryland National Guard, 40th Infantry Division. In 1952, he was killed when his observation plane crashed on its home field in Korea.

In October 1950, Nusbaum of Westminster was sent to Korea, where he served with Company I of the 1st Calvary Division. He was on patrol March 2, 1952, when a grenade exploded nearby, fatally wounding him. He left behind a wife and two sons, Michael, 2, and Bruce, 10 months old.

Bruce M. Nusbaum, now 48, plans to drive from his home in Millersville, Pa., to participate in the rededication.

"It's the first time I've ever been asked to do something for him and I get to be there. It's an honor," he said.

No relatives of Fenwick have been found.

Jesse Brown also discovered that Fenwick and Nusbaum were not among the 527 names on the Maryland Korean War Memorial in Baltimore.

"We'll have to check into it and see if those two names need to be added," said Christine V. Hobbs, administrator of the Maryland Veterans Commission.

Though not a veteran himself, W. Benjamin Brown said he has always had an interest in veterans groups. Part of that interest comes from his stepfather, who was a survivor of the brutal Bataan death march in the Philippines during World War II.

'What remembering is'

"From hearing what they went through, I did a lot of thinking about the freedoms we take for granted. I came to understand what remembering is all about," Brown said.

Brown's work might not be over. He recently received a call from a woman who said her brother died in a ship collision and his name was not on the Korean War Memorial. Brown is investigating.

"If we find out someone should rightfully be on there, someone with a bigger mind than mine will have to figure out how to get a full accounting," he said.

The rededication ceremony of the Carroll County Korean War Memorial will be held outside Westminster City Hall at 1 p.m. tomorrow.

Pub Date: 7/24/98

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