Historian shares memories of Fort Meade: Veterans Day event honors Soldier father and son

ALt. Col. Gittipong Paruchabutr, commander of Headquarters Command Battalion, presents an historic tile from a building on post to guest speaker Glenn Williams. (Photo by Phil Grout)

When Glenn Williams was a boy growing up in Catonsville, his father and Fort Meade were his connection to the Army.

Williams’ father, Franklin Ezra Williams, enlisted in 1941 and completed his basic training at Fort Meade.

Decades later, in 1996, Glenn Williams retired from the Army as a major. Today, he is a senior historian at the U.S. Center of Military History at Fort McNair in Washington, D.C.

Williams recalled frequent visits to Fort Meade as a child and his own military career during his guest speech at the garrison’s annual Veterans Day ceremony held Nov. 9 at the Fort Meade Museum.

Ben Loney, chief of Plans and Operations for the Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security, was the emcee. Staff Sgt. Matt Richardson, a vocalist with the U.S. Army Band at Fort Myer, Va., sang the national anthem.

Chaplain (Capt.) Matthias Rendon, Fort Meade’s Catholic priest, gave the invocation.

During his speech, Williams said his father joined the Army Reserves in 1946 after his discharge from the regular Army and retired as a first sergeant in 1962.

The elder Williams took his son with him on visits to Fort Meade’s commissary and Exchange.

“I loved coming with him [to Fort Meade],” Glenn Williams told an audience of garrison and military leaders, congressional representatives and civilians. “It was my vision of the Army.”

The historian spoke about Fort Meade’s humble beginnings as Camp Meade in 1917, and how the installation became a training camp for American troops before they shipped off during World War I.

Williams also spoke of his love for the Army, his military service and how an honor guard detachment from Fort Meade honored his father at his funeral in 1963.

Williams attended what was then Loyola College of Maryland on an Army Reserve Officers’ Training Corps scholarship. He joined the Ranger Company of the ROTC battalion of Loyola. The group conducted its field exercises on Fort Meade.

“I think it prepared me not only to be an infantryman, it gave me a start for my military education,” he said.

Staff Sgt. Matt Richardson of the U.S. Army Band at Fort Myer, Va., sings the national anthem to open the Veterans Day ceremony held Nov. 9 at the Fort Meade Museum. Behind him is a World War I Mark VIII tank. (Photo by Phil Grout)

During his active-duty career, Williams was the executive officer of the 297th Maintenance Battalion of the Maryland Army National Guard as a promotable captain.

“Three of the things I am most proud to say are: I am are a veteran, a Soldier and an infantryman,” he said.

Williams told the audience that when his father died in 1963 and was buried at Baltimore National Cemetery, the firing party that fired the volleys at the funeral was from Fort Meade.

Williams encouraged the audience to browse through the World War I wing of the post museum to view displays of Soldiers firing their rifles in training and other Soldiers attacking mockups of German trenches.

Williams noted that Veterans Day originally began as Armistice Day on Nov. 11 to mark the end of World War I in 1918 and honored all members of the U.S. Armed Forces. In 1954, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed a bill officially changing the name to Veterans Day to honor all military veterans.

“It’s very appropriate that it’s not only called Veterans Day, but that we celebrate it here on Fort Meade,” Williams said.

After Williams’ speech, Lt. Col. Gittipong Paruchabutr, commander of Headquarters Command Battalion, presented him with an historic tile from one of the installation’s original buildings.

Following Williams’ presentation, a reception for guests sponsored by the Fort Meade Museum Historical Foundation was held inside the museum.

Navy Master Chief Nathaniel Colding of Cryptologic Warfare Group 6, who attended the ceremony, said the observance of Veterans Day “allows me to take a step back and appreciate the sacrifices that were made before me to where I am now.”

The liberties that Americans enjoy, Colding said, are “afforded by the people who have made tremendous sacrifices of themselves and their families.”

Lynne Rittenberg, a substitute teacher at the West Meade Early Education Center, said her father Sgt. Fletcher Mormann trained at Fort Meade in preparation for World War II.

Rittenberg said she has a scrapbook of her father’s photos, letters and maps from his service that she would like to donate to the museum.

Veterans Day “is a time to salute the people who put their lives on the line for our country,” Rittenberg said.

“It’s so important to honor the past and have hope for the future.”

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