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Ocean City

Boardwalk banners to honor hometown military heroes

By Josh Davis
Staff Writer

(May 23, 2014) This Memorial Day many visitors to Ocean City will see the town’s display of its local heroes, in bright banners over the boardwalk, for the first time.

U.S.M.C Sergeant Paul Chambers and U.S. Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Glenn Steele are among the 20 Worcester County active military personnel honored by the Ocean City Elks Hometown Heroes Military Banner Program. (Lisa Capitelli | Ocean City Today)

The Ocean City Elks Hometown Heroes Military Banner Program, honoring active duty military who live in Worcester County, created the five-by-two-and-a-half-foot banners that now hang from boardwalk light poles between the pier and Fourth Street. Each banner displays the official military photo, name, rank and branch of the United States Armed Forces of its honoree.

The program was introduced to the Ocean City Elks Veterans Committee in June 2013. The committee consisted of Edward ‘Pete’ Peterson, Sarge Garlitz and Pat Riordan.

“This project was selected as one of our three goals for the upcoming year,” Riordan said. “We presented our proposal to the Ocean City Mayor and Town Council in January 2014 and received the authorization to proceed with our plans.”

Area businesses, fraternal organizations and citizens were contacted to fund the project, meaning there was no cost for the honorees.

Robert Terlizzi, who submitted his son, Tyler B. Hill, U.S. Army, took several family members to see the banners.

“It turned out very nice – I thought it was a very fitting way to honor our local servicemen and women,” he said. “I think it raises awareness to the general public of what our men and women in the military are doing. I think we as a society sometimes take for the granted the freedoms we enjoy and the sacrifices they make. I believe it is a very noble way to remember and honor these people as a reminder that people from our very own community are putting their lives at risk each and every day to ensure our freedom to make the world a much better place.”

Phyllis Purnell, who submitted her son, Lieutenant Colonel Terrence Purnell of the U.S. Army, believes the banners will have a unifying effect on the community.

“It is really, really a distinguished honor,” she said. “I think it lets everybody know that there is a future for our youth and that these honorees won’t be forgotten. It is an honor to know that there is a path to success and it just means so much to our hometown, because these are our children. It took a village to raise mine, so it takes everybody to raise everybody else’s. That’s the attitude that we should have.”

Starr Belmont, who serves in the Army National Guard, was nominated by her father.

“It was a surprise – I was at a loss for words when they told me it was going up,” she said. “It’s nice that they’re recognizing those that are actually serving our country.”

Weather-resistant brackets were purchased, allowing the banners to stand up to severe weather conditions including nor’easters and hurricanes.

Riordan said the project had plenty of additional help in the design and printing phase.

“We received valuable assistance from local Graphic Artist, Jack Curry with our graphic design work,” he said. “He was able to keep us from reinventing the wheel, and Jack’s guidance us along the way proved invaluable.”

Dave Stallone, owner of Signarama in Rockville, Md., printed the banners.

“Dave’s father was a WWII tail gunner and he wanted to be involved with this project to honor his father’s service to our country,” Riordan said.

The banners were hung during Springfest and will remain on display through Sunfest, when they will be presented to a family member of the service man or woman they honor.

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