Honoring Those Who Never Returned

By Greg Ragan, guest contributor
Plaque Honoring Nine Local Soldiers Lost in Normandy Campaign

This plaque honoring nine Frederick County soldiers who died during the WWII Normandy campaign is located at the corner of the Blue and Grey parade field in front of Building 810 (Headquarters) at the intersection of Ditto Avenue and Porter Street on Ft. Detrick. 

Editor's Note: This article was submitted to the Poster by the author.

With Memorial Day and the 78th anniversary of D-Day on the horizon, please take a moment to locate the small memorial dedicated to nine local individuals who gave the ultimate sacrifice as part of the Allied invasion of Normandy in June 1944.

Located at the corner of the Blue and Grey parade field in front of Building 810 (Headquarters) at the intersection of Ditto Avenue and Porter Street, the bronze plaque affixed to marble reads, “In honor of the 29th Infantry Division and dedicated to those sons of Frederick County who died during the Normandy campaign and in later hostilities while serving with Company A 1/115th Infantry." 

The 115th Infantry Regiment has a long and rich history in Maryland. It was first organized in western Maryland in 1881—although there is some indication it may have started as early as 1775 when Michael Cresap organized a company of rifleman from Frederick County to respond to the Continental Congress’s call for troops following the battles of Lexington and Concord in Massachusetts. The 115th Infantry’s current motto, “Rally Round the Flag,” originated following its engagement in the Civil War Battle of Front Royal in 1862.

During WWII, the 115th was part of the second wave of the D-Day assault force that landed on Omaha Beach in Normandy and proceeded to fight its way toward the village of St. Lo. The entire regiment was awarded a Presidential Distinguished Unit Citation, embroidered “St. Laurent-sur-Mer” for its gallant actions on that historic day. The 1st Battalion, 115th Infantry was awarded the French Croix de Guerre with Silver Star for repulsing a determined German counterattack outside St. Lo on July 11, 1944. In an 11-day period during that fateful July, 175 members of the regiment were killed in action, with another 726 were wounded in action.  

Today, the Maryland National Guard Armory for A Company, 1st Battalion of the 115th Infantry sits not far from the Frederick Airport off Route 144 and still serves the community, and when called upon, the United States. 

Frederick Post #78 of the 29th Division Association is dedicated to keeping the history of the 29th Infantry Division alive. We are tasked with care of several 29th Division memorials, including the monument at Blue and Grey field. We invite members of the community to join us later this month as we clean and landscape the area around this monument. We will also plant flowers in the large concrete planters under the 29th Division Flag. Please contact fellow Post #78 member Kelly Jo Lockard Toms (in OHS) or me for more details. We also welcome volunteers to assist us with placing Division flags on the graves of unit veterans in several Frederick County cemeteries, including Mt. Olivet, as part of Flag Day activities on June 14.

As we approach Memorial Day, D-Day and Flag Day, please take some time to remember those who sacrificed all, including our local heroes here in Frederick County. These were ordinary citizens who were called upon, and served with great distinction, so that we may enjoy the freedoms we sometimes take for granted.  

Greg Ragan joined A Company of the 29th Division while attending Mount Saint Mary’s University in Emmitsburg. He is now a Manager II in the Environment, Health, and Safety Program at the Frederick National Laboratory.