McDonogh honors its fallen heroes

WAY BACK WHEN

May 25, 2002|By Frederick N. Rasmussen | Frederick N. Rasmussen,SUN STAFF

McDonogh School archivist Frayda Salkin had an idea.

Salkin, who has spent the last two years organizing the school's history and exploring the contents of long-packed-away boxes of memorabilia, decided that the memorial to the school's dead who served in World Wars I and II, Korea and Vietnam needed a new focus.

"Memorial Field House was put up by the alumni in 1949 to remember those who fought in World War I and World War II," said Salkin the other day from her office at McDonogh, a co-educational private school in Owings Mills.

Incorporated into the field house, a red brick structure with classic white-painted Palladian windows and doors, were marble pillars and wainscoting and chandeliers from a demolished hotel in Baltimore, Salkin said.

From World War I through Vietnam, 69 former McDonogh students and one teacher gave their lives for their country.

"The first thing I wanted to do was find photographs of each man and have them framed," said Salkin.

She succeeded, though it wasn't easy. "I went wherever I thought I could find information and began my search by reading each student's file," she said.

Once she had gathered the pictures, she had a touch-screen computer installed in the lobby of the field house. The computer has each man's biography and service history for those seeking more information.

"Another goal was for the students here to get to know each and every one of these men who had once been children here and then went off to war. And that their sacrifice has helped preserve our freedoms. We must never forget what they gave," she said.

The stories that Salkin has compiled are heart-rending accounts of bravery and heroism, and of youthful death.

Consider Lt. Charles Carter Anderson Jr., Class of 1942, who ran cross country and track and played golf. He enlisted in the Marines after spending a year at Georgetown University.

He was with the 4th Marine Division and landed in the first assault on Iwo Jima. Critically wounded on March 3, 1945, he lost an arm and both legs. Anderson, 21, was carried to an off-shore transport commanded by his father, a Navy captain.

As his father stood by the surgeon trying to save his son's life, the young man looked up at his father and said, "I wonder how Mother is going to take all this."

He died the next day.

The captain helped carry his son's body ashore for burial in the 4th Marine Division Cemetery on Iwo Jima. In 1948, the body was re-interred at Arlington National Cemetery.

On March 14, 1945, a Navy chaplain called on Anderson's mother, Viola B. Anderson, who lived in Washington. "Is it my husband or my son?" she asked.

After the chaplain gave her the sad news, she turned to read two letters from her husband. In one, he had written: "A force stronger than ours has taken charge and our beloved son is with us on earth no more."

Lt. William Theodore Delaplane III, Class of 1935, was the first Navy aviator from Frederick killed in World War II.

He earned a bachelor's degree from Washington and Lee University in 1939, and enlisted in the Navy in 1939. He earned his wings at Pensacola in 1941.

A flight instructor assigned to Oakland, Calif., his twin-engine plane crashed on April 27, 1943, five days before he turned 24.

His classmate, Charles H. Eaton, wrote to Delaplane's parents, recalling how their son saved his extra money in order to take plane rides "while the rest of us were squandering ours away; the summers he put in at Quantico when others were sunning at the beaches. `Deli' sacrificed his personal pleasures, but when the emergency arose, he was ready.

"It is tragic that he had to be taken from you. I know how attached you were to him, and he to you. He often spoke of you and behind all his goodness was the inspiration he received from home."

Eaton, a lieutenant with the 3rd Infantry Division in Italy, was himself killed when hit by a German grenade in 1945. Decorated with the Purple Heart and Distinguished Service Cross, he was buried in Arlington.

Last month, at the re-dedication of the McDonogh memorial, 1963 graduate Jack Smith, a former ABC News correspondent who is now a media consultant in San Francisco, gave the keynote address.

"Lest we forget, the names on this war memorial were all boys here once, real kids who played sports, walked and laughed, performed in plays, had aspirations ... and grew into young men who gave their lives for this country," said Smith, a twice-wounded Vietnam veteran.

"I have come to believe that it is right that we, the living, should rededicate ourselves in places like this, where we grew into adults, to the values for which American soldiers have died in war: freedom, fairness, opportunity and community."

" ... By honoring the school's war dead, we in a sense keep them alive, even if only in our hearts," Smith said. "... May this new field house keep their memories alive so we never forget who they were and what they did."

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