Otis R. Redmond, 85, career soldier who fought in 3 wars, APG employee

August 14, 2002|By Frederick N. Rasmussen | Frederick N. Rasmussen,SUN STAFF

Otis R. Redmond, a career soldier who fought in three wars during his 30 years in the Army and enjoyed collecting toys for needy children, died Sunday when his pickup truck crashed into a tractor-trailer on Philadelphia Road in Belcamp. He was 85.

Traveling with the Aberdeen resident at the time of the accident was his golden retriever, Black Jack, named for Gen. John J. "Black Jack" Pershing, who led the Allied Expeditionary Forces during World War I.

"The dog survived the accident with only a cut on his chin, and he'll be coming home today," said Susan Hanson, a niece who lives in Raeford, N.C. "Our uncle loved that dog, and it was the third golden retriever that he named Black Jack. If he had died, we were going to bury them together."

Mr. Redmond, who was called "Red" because of his thick red hair, was born in Richmond, Va., one of 10 children. He spent his early years in Roanoke, and after the death of his father, a shipbuilder, was sent to live on an uncle's farm in Statesville, N.C.

He enlisted in the Army in 1936. He served with the 6th Field Artillery in Europe during World War II, and again in Korea. He also served with an artillery unit in Vietnam.

After leaving the Army, he went to work as a civilian employee in the engineering department at Aberdeen Proving Ground, where he conducted water tests. He retired in 1982.

Until selling his interest in the early 1990s, Mr. Redmond was co-owner of a mobile home park in Aberdeen.

Several years ago, he established a traveling World War II exhibit featuring uniforms, weapons, cavalry saddles and other wartime memorabilia in a trailer that he took to schools, fairs and other community gatherings.

Fiercely proud of his military service and extremely patriotic, Mr. Redmond gathered with other war veterans in Bel Air a week after the Sept. 11 attacks to show his support for the nation's armed forces.

"His campaign hat was tucked tightly under his chin, and his riding pants, boots and spurs fit smartly -- just as they did in 1936 when he joined the Army," The Sun reported. "His khaki shirt was the one he wore when he retired as a master sergeant in 1966."

He was a lifetime member of Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 10028 and American Legion Post 17, both in Aberdeen.

Mr. Redmond, who lived on a 25-acre farm and had been a Boy Scout leader for many years, donated several acres of his property to the Scouts for use as a campsite and place to play sports.

"As a child he was very poor, and at Christmas he considered himself lucky if he got an orange," said Mrs. Hanson. "All year long, he filled a spare guest room in his home with toys, stuffed animals and bicycles, which he later gave to agencies to be distributed to needy children."

Last year, he donated more than 500 items for distribution to needy Harford County children.

"I just want to do my part to make sure these kids have a good Christmas," he said in a newspaper interview.

"He did a lot of good for a lot of people," said Mrs. Hanson.

Services for Mr. Redmond, who will be buried in his World War II uniform, will be held at 10 a.m. tomorrow at the McComas Funeral Home, 1317 Cokesbury Road, Abingdon.

Mr. Redmond's wife of 44 years, Annie M. Christa, died in 1996. He is survived by nephews and nieces.

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