Annual Boardwalk banners given to military members, families at OC Elks Lodge

On Saturday, as is the annual tradition, those banners were presented to the service members and their families at the Ocean City Elks Lodge on Sinepuxent Bay Avenue.

“It seems like we get 100 percent support. Nobody’s ever been opposed, no one has vandalized any of the banners, and to me, people see it and they notice (these veterans and their service),” said Pat Riordan, event organizer and emcee. 

This year, 42 banners were commissioned for the Boardwalk, with the vast majority of the service members honored being veterans of or active duty in the Vietnam War. A handful of outliers belonged to the Korean War and the Cold War.

“Vietnam guys, they were (criticized) when they came back,” Riordan said. “It was tough. We just wanted to give them some recognition. This was the first year we could do Vietnam. Some of these guys, they’re dying of Agent Orange (exposure) now. They have problems going on. We did this to try to give them some recognition in the area.”

The tradition, Riordan said, comes from seeing a similar tribute in a California town on vacation and he decided to bring it back to Worcester County. Originally, the banners would honor active-duty service members, but in recent years the focus shifted to veterans of past wars. They’ve honored World War II and Korean War veterans in past years.

To be featured, a service member has to be a current resident of Worcester County at the time the banners are printed. With so many veterans no longer alive or having moved away following a life in Worcester County, Riordan said he’d love to honor more. But with room for just 42 banners, tough decisions had to be made.

Typically there is a ceremony in May when the banners are raised, but with covid-19 concerns still, organizers forewent the opening ceremony this year. The banners were raised in 2020, but no in-person ceremony before or after was held.

On Saturday, veterans were encouraged to share some words with the approximately 150 people in attendance about the program. Like it’s often been in years past, it can be emotional and humbling for those involved.

“You see the people’s faces today and it’s just worth any amount of money. You get choked up hearing these stories,” said Dan Wormann, an Elks Lodge member who helps with the event’s organizing. They’re so thankful that we’re thanking them. It’s crazy. They put their lives (on the line) and they’re thanking us for what we did, which when it comes down to it is nothing compared to what they did.”

The hometown heroes were:

Paul V. Albright, petty officer 2nd class, Vietnam, U.S. Navy

Thomas Anderson, E-5, Vietnam, U.S. Navy

Lee Baker, sergeant, Vietnam, U.S. Army

George A. Barstis, major, Vietnam, U.S. Army

Robert “Bob” Broderick, corporal, Vietnam, U.S. Marine Corps

Victor Bunting, quartermaster second class, Vietnam, U.S. Coast Guard

James “Jim” Crabill, master sergeant, Vietnam, U.S. Air Force

Ben Dawson, sergeant 1st class, Vietnam, U.S. Army

Don Farren, corporal, Vietnam, U.S. Marine Corps

Bob Gilmore, corporal, Vietnam era, U.S. Marine Corps

John Granite, specialist, Vietnam era, U.S. Army

Michael “Mike” Houdek III, petty officer 3rd class, Vietnam, U.S. Navy

Bernard E. Huster, E-4, Vietnam era, U.S. Army

John S. “Jack” Hyle, 1st lieutenant, Vietnam era, U.S. Army

Charles Fred Jameson, sergeant, Vietnam, U.S. Marine Corps

Mike Konski, E-7, Vietnam era, U.S. Air Force and Air National Guard

Marin J. Kwesko,  lance corporal, Vietnam, U.S. Marine Corps

Rick Langdon,  E-5, Vietnam, U.S. Army

Kevin Long, E-4, Vietnam era, U.S. Army

Melton L. Marshall, sergeant, Korea, U.S. Army

Kenneth Michael “Mike” Mason, E-5, Vietnam, U.S. Army

Reggie T. Mason, sergeant, Vietnam, U.S. Marine Corps

Karl E. May, colonel, Vietnam, U.S. Army

Russell Maykrantz,  corporal, Cold War era, U.S. Army

Melton L. Marshall,  sergeant, Korea, U.S. Army

Kenneth Michael “Mike” Mason,  E-5, Vietnam, U.S. Army

Thomas F. Michalowicz,  E-6, Vietnam era, U.S. Army

Patrick S. Parks, lance corporal,  Vietnam, U.S. Marine Corps

Allie N. Purnell E-4, Vietnam, U.S. Army

Walter “Bill” Schaffer, commander, Vietnam, U.S. Navy

Walter “Bill” Schaffer, commander, Vietnam, U.S. Navy

Raymond “Ray” Schmidt, corporal, Vietnam, U.S. Marine Corps

Charles “Spaz” Spaziani,  E-5, Vietnam, U.S. Army

John Talbott, specialist, Cold War era, U.S. Army

Charles “Sonny” Thompson, seaman 1st class, Korea, U.S. Navy

Raymond Updike,  sergeant, Vietnam, U.S. Marine Corps

Tom Wengert,  E-4, Vietnam, U.S. Air Force

Jim Short,  lieutenant colonel, Vietnam, U.S. Marine Corps

Mike Snell,  sergeant, Vietnam, U.S. Marine Corps

Donald Thompson, specialist, Cold War era, U.S. Army

James Thompson, corporal, Vietnam era, U.S. Marine Corps

Charles Westbrook, E-7, U.S. Navy

Robert “Bob” Younglove, lieutenant, Vietnam, U.S. Navy

This story appears in the print version of the Ocean City Today on Oct. 29.

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