Fort McHenry Remembers the Veterans During the Holiday Season PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 20 December 2010 14:25

CATONSVILLE, MD – On a cold crisp December morning, members from the Fort McHenry Composite Squadron gathered at the Baltimore National Cemetery (BNC) in Catonsville in support of the annual Wreaths Across America ™ (WAA) program.  This program honors the veterans who have served our country, remembers those that are currently serving our country and to teaches the youth that the freedoms we enjoy in our country aren’t really free.

For the second year, Captain Sherry McManus, Assistant Public Affairs Officer of the Fort McHenry Composite Squadron, served as the location leader for the Baltimore National Cemetery program.  Her duties included the coordination of events with the cemetery personnel, preparing the program, procuring the services of a color guard and bugler, contacting the media for support and most importantly, to recruit organizations and individuals to fundraise or purchase wreaths in order to place them on the gravesites of our veterans.

Just two weeks before WAA, it was learned that of the 175 wreaths needed to complete Section B – Right at BNC, only 47 wreaths had been purchased for placement.  Being so far from the goal, contact was made with several television stations requesting assistance getting the word out to viewers with the hope that holiday spirit was alive and our shortfall would be eliminated.  WBAL-TV 11 is the only station that returned a call about our request. On the day after Thanksgiving WBAL-TV 11 aired a segment regarding WAA, explaining the huge deficit of wreaths and how viewers could help.  Capt. McManus made contact with two organizations that have previously assisted with the program at BNC: the Maryland National Guard and the 27 Flags Unit of the Dewey Lowman American Legion Post 109. Once again, the Maryland National Guard provided a color guard for our ceremony, and Bugler Jari Villaneuva provided the sounding of taps.  Sea Scout Ship #361 under the direction of Mate Bill Moser and the Navy JROTC cadets from the Maritime Industries Academy High School under the direction of Chief Steve Shepard joined in the ceremony.  Fort Meade Enlisted Spouses Club, friend and supporter of the Civil Air Patrol, made a large wreath donation and then followed up by participating at the ceremony.

Ms. Kathy Silvia, Director of Baltimore National Cemetery, began the ceremony by welcoming all to the BNC stating that she had just been appointed as the director of the cemetery three weeks prior.  Ms. Silvia, a retired Major in the US Army, introduced the emcee for the program, Capt. Donald Ells, Commander of the Ft. McHenry Composite Squadron.  Capt. Ells, a former Staff Sergeant in the US Air Force, led the program by posting the Colors followed by the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance.

Throughout the program, members of various organizations honored the United States Armed Forces and those that have and are serving by placing a memorial wreath at a special marker.  In addition to recognizing the US Army, US Air Force, US Marines, US Navy and US Coast Guard, the US Merchant Marines and MIA/POWs were honored with a holiday wreath.

At the conclusion of the scripted ceremony, those gathered were invited to place the wreaths in Section B – Right.  The response to the WBAL-TV 11 airing was tremendous! Not only were we able to decorate Section B – Right in its entirety, we were able to complete one half of Section B – Left laying a total of 404 wreaths at the cemetery.  This has given us our goal for next year – completing Section B in its entirety – 900 wreaths! A huge thank you to all who helped make this year a success!

Participants from Fort McHenry CS included: Lieutenant Colonel James Steinmeier,  Major (Ch.) August Peters, Capt. Donald Ells, Capt. Sherry McManus, Capt. Cajetan von der Linden, First Lieutenant Charles Frater, Second Lieutenant Anthony Moe, 2d Lt. James McGowan, 2d Lt. Ping Wah Lai, Senior Member Shawn Nunley, Flight Officer Ryan Fregger, Cadet Chief Master Sergeant Zachary McManus, Cadet/Master Sergeant Alexandra Green, C/MSgt Brent Sacks, Cadet Staff Sergeant Ryan Payne, Cadet Senior Airman Kyle Rose, Cadet Airmen First Class Sennsa Imhotep and Darrell Nunley, Cadet Airmen Malcolm Scott, Timothy Jacobs, Payton Erlemeier and Brandon Negron, Cadet Airman Timothy Jacobs and Cadet Phillip Yancey.

Civil Air Patrol, the official auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force, is a nonprofit organization with 58,000 members nationwide. CAP, in its Air Force auxiliary role, performs 90 percent of continental U.S. inland search and rescue missions as tasked by the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center and was credited by the AFRCC with saving 72 lives in fiscal year 2009. Its volunteers also perform homeland security, disaster relief and counter-drug missions at the request of federal, state and local agencies. The members play a leading role in aerospace education and serve as mentors to more than 23,000 young people currently participating in CAP cadet programs. CAP has been performing missions for America for 68 years.

More than 1,500 members of CAP serve in Maryland. Last fiscal year wing members flew 42 search and rescue missions and were credited with 31 finds. For more information, visit

The Fort McHenry Composite Squadron meets weekly on Tuesday evenings at the MG William Witte Armory, 130 Mellor Avenue in Catonsville, Md. Prospective members are always welcome. For more information or directions, visit the squadron website at

Last Updated on Wednesday, 12 October 2011 21:45
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