(July 12, 2019) Work like a captain, play like a pirate. This was the personal motto shared between Deputy Fire Marshal Ryan Whittington and his close friend Ocean City Police Department Officer Joshua Adickes.
Six years later, following the death of Adickes in a plane crash, Whittington maintains this view on life and hopes to memorialize the life of his friend through a police scholarship.
“The Josh & Tommy Memorial Scholarship is an annual scholarship award that will provide financial assistance to graduates of the Ocean City Police Department Seasonal Police Academy for educational purposes,” Whittington said. “This scholarship is merit-based…one-time award of at least $500 annually.”
On June 30, 2013, Adickes joined fellow OCPD officer Tom Geoghegan Jr., for a ride in Geoghegan’s 1980 Nanchang CJ-6A plane.
Geoghegan attempted to pull an air maneuver known as a stall where the plane is flown vertically at full speed before stopping midair. The pilot then rolled the plane on its back, spinning it 22 times before it hit water.
The National Transportation Safety Board determined that Geoghegan had lost situational awareness during the spins and misjudged his altitude, according to The Daily Times of Salisbury.
Whittington spent a lot of his free time with Adickes and other members of OCPD and the Fire Marshal’s office.
“Our friendship was more like a family,” Whittington said about Adickes.
The night before the crash, Whittington and Adickes had spent the day at Northside Park, taking pictures on the pier and eventually going to Dairy Queen.
“No purpose, just to have fun,” Whittington said about their hangouts.
Then the next day, the crash occurred, and Adickes lost his life.
“Immediately after this tragedy happened, we had a bonfire on the beach,” Whittington said.
The bonfire became a yearly ritual for friends and family to celebrate the life of Adickes and Geoghegan. The first night, Whittington remembered, around 200 people attended the bonfire.
However, as the years went on, fewer people began to show up.
Whittington acknowledged that it was just a reality of life. People move away, they get new careers or they have health problems of their own. Yet, he did not want the memory of his friend to fade away.
“I was talking to Jeff Heiser about what can we do to make their memory live on,” he said.
Heiser is an OCPD officer as well was a close friend of Geoghegan.
It was then that the two decided to create the scholarship, so the memory of their friends would not only be remembered, but also contribute to the life of a future public safety officer.
“Josh loved his job and Ocean City,” Adickes mother Gerry Adickes said. “He would be thrilled to know that officers will be aided with their education in his name.”
“I know that Tommy would be …so thrilled that this scholarship will benefit those seasonal police officers who wish to live a life of law enforcement,” Geoghegan’s mother Maureen Geoghegan said.
Whittington’s goal is to raise $10,000 to fund the scholarship so that even when he has retired, Josh and Tommy’s life would be remembered.
“Josh taught me [that] you only have one life, and if you live it well enough, that’s all you need,” Whittington said.
To support the Josh & Tommy Memorial Scholarship, you can donate a check to Josh and Tommy Police Scholarship, care of the Community Foundation, 1324 Belmont Avenue, Suite 401, Salisbury, Maryland, 21804.