Just in time for Memorial Day, a memorial remembering a fallen Harford County hero has come to his home county thanks to members of the Jarrettsville VFW.
Marine Reservist Lance Cpl. Patrick Ryan Adle was 21 when he was killed in action in Iraq by an improvised explosive device, on June 29, 2004.
The company Lance Cpl. Adle had worked for, Weyerhaeuser Co., erected a memorial in his honor at its offices in Baltimore. The company, however, recently relocated to Washington state, and contacted Lance Cpl. Adle's mother, Pam Adle-Watts, about having the memorial moved.
She contact the Jarrettsville VFW, which jumped in to help.
"At that moment, we took it upon ourselves as our mission to bring someone home again. There was absolutely no way we would pass on this," Jarrettsville VFW Commander Edward Novak said. "We consider it an honor and a privilege to help her with this."
The memorial was moved from Weyerhaeuser to a spot next to the post's Purple Heart Pavilion. Two local girls, Katelyn, 15, and Kristen, 10, Hammaker, heard about the project and wanted to do something to help. They created the star-shaped garden around the memorial.
The memorial will be dedicated Saturday at a ceremony at the VFW Post, where other Purple Heart recipients will be honored and Harford County's other fallen heroes will be remembered. The dedication starts at 4 p.m. The post is located at 1714 Morse Road.
For Adle-Watts, the memorial to her son is where it belongs.
"Patrick's meant to be where he is. He's right from Harford County, and it's nice it's going to be by the Gold Star Highway [Route 23]," Adle-Watt said. "How much better would it get? It's like a gift from God. His spirit is here – what an honor, a Godsend to me."
It was a relief to Adle-Watts when the VFW stepped up and offered to help.
"After that first phone call, I could breathe again. When I was told it had to be moved, I only had to make one phone call," she said.
Words that come to mind when she thinks of them include "honored, respected, loved, family." The Jarrettsville VFW and its Marine Corps League were behind Lance Cpl. Adle and his family from the beginning.
The Aegis: Top stories
Days after Lance Cpl. Adle was killed, members of the VFW "marched into my house and gave me the most beautiful and kind words. And now they're the gentlemen who have the memorial," Adle-Watts said. "They're angels, all of them, they're my angels. They were behind me before I even knew they were behind me."
Novak said the VFW would have stood behind the family, even if Lance Cpl. Adle hadn't been a Harford County resident, but it's "particularly important that we do something in light of the fact that he graduated from Fallston High School and essentially was one of our own," Novak said.
The VFW, he said, was prepared to take whatever steps were necessary to make sure Lance Cpl. Adle's memorial came home.
"It's a way to honor his memory and in this instance take care of the family of a veteran," Novak said. "When this was laid at my feet, this was not something that was not going to happen."
"That's not bravado, this is too important to go do. This young man served his country. This young man and others gave up their lives to protect others," he said.
That's part of the job in the military, Novak said. And the job of the VFW is to take care of what happens in the aftermath, for anyone who has served.
"We're simply looking out now for the family, albeit years later," he said.