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This past Monday, Nov. 11, marked the 101st anniversary of the end of World War I. In the United States we call it Veterans Day and it honors military veterans who have served in the United States Armed Forces. The day was originally known as Armistice Day, which was recognized each year on November the 11th to mark the armistice signed by the Allies of World War I and Germany in Compiègne, France. The armistice took effect on “the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month” of 1918. Veterans Day honors all veterans, living or deceased of all wars and while thinking of the many I have known, a few who are no longer with us came to mind.

When I was growing up I was fortunate to have a wonderful neighbor and friend who served in World War I. Edward N. Chrest, served in the United States Army with the 4th Division American Expeditionary Forces (AEF) Supply Train as a corporal and truck driver in France and the occupation of Germany after the First World War. Both of my grandfathers, served in World War II. Thomas S. Gordon served with the United States Naval Reserves (USNR) Landing Craft Infantry (LCI) and Landing Craft Tank (LST) Flotilla Amphibian Forces in the South Pacific during World War II. Charles G. Leppo, served in United States Army Battery A 304th Field Artillery, 77th Division South Pacific in the World War II.

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This past week also marked the historic 244th birthday of the Marines. The Marine Corps began as the Continental Marines during the American Revolutionary War. They were formed by a resolution of the Continental Congress on Nov. 10, 1775. The birthday was not formally recognized until 1921 by Maj. Gen. John Lejeune, who ordered that Nov. 10, 1775 be officially recognized as the Marine Corps birthday.

Given these two historic dates in military history, I thought this week would be fitting to highlight a piece of local history that many might be unaware of. Did you know that Carroll County, Maryland is home to two Medal of Honor recipients?

In the United States, the Medal of Honor is the highest and most prestigious personal military decoration. It is awarded to recognize U.S. military service members who have distinguished themselves by acts of valor, “through conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of life above and beyond the call of duty.” The medal is presented by the president of the United States in the name of the United States Congress.

The first Medal of Honor recipient in Carroll County was John E. Buffington, who was sergeant in Company C 6th Maryland Infantry. At Petersburg, Virginia on April 2, 1865 he was the first enlisted man of the 3rd Division to mount the parapet of the enemy line during the Civil War. He was noted for “bravery during combat” and was not presented with the Medal of Honor until April 3, 1908 as Buffington had not applied when he mustered out of the Army.

The second recipient was Sterling A. Galt, who was an Officer in Company F 36th Infantry U.S. Volunteers. At Bamban, Luzon, Philippine Islands on Nov. 9, 1899 his was for “distinguished bravery and conspicuous gallantry in action against insurgents” during the Philippine Insurrection.

Remarkably, both men were born in Carroll County who were recipients of the Metal of Honor were born in Taneytown. To date the Medal of Honor Historical Society of the United States notes that “there have been 3,525 Medals of Honor awarded to 3,506 individuals since the Medal of Honor was introduced.”

Without question we owe a debit that can never be repaid to the countless brave men and women who have selflessly served our great country. Allowing us to enjoy freedoms while they place themselves in harms way. To honor them we should not only thank them on Veterans Day, but every day.

Tom Gordon writes from Westminster. His column appears every other Saturday. Email him at tgordonwrites@gmail.com.

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