Sup­port­ers break ground on memo­rial to APG work­ers

Cecil Whig - - A••END A FREE - By DAVID AN­DER­SON

ABERDEEN

The Aegis

— The APG Cen­ten­nial Cel­e­bra­tion As­so­ci­a­tion, which will co­or­di­nate events through­out 2017 to cel­e­brate the 100th year of Aberdeen Prov­ing Ground, is over­see­ing the con­struc­tion of a memo­rial to honor the mil­i­tary and civil­ian work­ers who have lost their lives while work­ing at the Har­ford County Army post dur­ing the past cen­tury.

At least 46 work­ers have died in ac­ci­dents on the job at the post, which was founded in 1917 dur­ing World War I, as well as 82 work­ers who were vic­tims of the world­wide 1918 in­fluenza pan­demic, Charlie Ni­etubicz, chair of the as­so­ci­a­tion’s APG memo­rial com­mit­tee, said dur­ing a ground­break­ing cer­e­mony Fri­day.

The memo­rial will be erected in Fes­ti­val Park in down­town Aberdeen.

The Army post, Har­ford County’s largest em­ployer, has a mil­i­tary and civil­ian pop­u­la­tion that ranges from 18,000 to 22,000 peo­ple per day.

The post started as a mu­ni­tions test­ing cen­ter. It has be­come an in­ter­na­tion­al­ly­known lo­ca­tion for its “lead­ing edge ac­com­plish­ments” in re­search and de­vel­op­ment on mil­i­tary weapons, ve­hi­cles and equip­ment, chem­i­cal, bi­o­log­i­cal and ra­di­o­log­i­cal war­fare de­fense, test­ing and eval­u­a­tion, as well as cy­ber de­fense, said Larry Muzzelo, deputy of the com­mand­ing gen­eral of APG’s Com­mu­ni­ca­tion­sElec­tron­ics Com­mand.

“This has not come, though, without a sac­ri­fice by our APG mil­i­tary and civil­ian fam­ily,” he said.

Muzzelo and other dig­ni­taries made remarks while in­side the meet­ing hall at the Amer­i­can Le­gion Bernard L. Tobin Post 128 in Aberdeen, be­fore the group headed across North Parke Street to the memo­rial site in Fes­ti­val Park for the of­fi­cial ground­break­ing.

The par­cel, which is in a sec­tion of the park at the in­ter­sec­tion of North Parke and Cen­ten­nial Lane, was do­nated by the City of Aberdeen.

“It is ap­pro­pri­ate that this memo­rial be lo­cated here in the com­mu­nity be­yond our fence line,” Muzzelo said. “The Team APG work­force and their fam­i­lies shop at the same stores, at­tend the same churches and go to the same schools and are in­te­gral mem­bers of our com­mu­nity.”

Ni­etubicz read a pas­sage from the book “The Big Gun,” pub­lished in 1918 by Ord­nance De­part­ment, USA at APG honor­ing work­ers who had died by that point in his­tory.

“They served where the roar of the guns was in­ces­sant, mak­ing these very guns safe for the men who would turn them on the ad­vanc­ing foe,” Ni­etubicz read. “In this same work, some of them gave their lives, others were vic­tims of dread dis­ease, but all died in service of their coun­try; they an­swered the call as did the others who served.”

He noted 11 women are among the work­ers who died in ac­ci­dents. Peo­ple lost their lives in in­ci­dents such as ex­plo­sions while build­ing mu­ni­tions — in­clud­ing those that held poi­son gas or white phos­pho­rus — ve­hi­cle ac­ci­dents or drown­ings.

Civil­ian worker Ge­orge H. Laz­zaro Jr., 41, died Jan. 30, 2013, while work­ing in the “su­per pond,” the post’s for­mer un­der­wa­ter test­ing fa­cil­ity. Two Navy divers, Diver First Class James Rey­her, 28, and Diver Sec­ond Class Ryan Harris, 23, died while work­ing in the pond about a month later.

Ni­etubicz said APG work­ers “made the supreme sac­ri­fice that man can be called upon to make,” read­ing from the book.

Con­struc­tion of the memo­rial, which will cost an es­ti­mated $52,000 to $57,000, is slated to be­gin next week be­fore it gets too cold to pour con­crete, ac­cord­ing to Ni­etubicz.

The front plaque in­cludes an en­grav­ing of an ar­tillery piece and a mes­sage that the mon­u­ment “stands in hum­ble” trib­ute to Army civil­ians, mil­i­tary per­son­nel and con­trac­tors who have lost their lives on post dur­ing the past cen­tury.

More than 100 events, put on by the post as well as en­ti­ties such as the pub­lic schools, li­brary sys­tem and Har­ford Com­mu­nity Col­lege, are sched­uled through­out 2017 as APG ob­serves its cen­ten­nial.

The APG Cen­ten­nial Cel­e­bra­tion As­so­ci­a­tion will co­or­di­nate those events, Ni­etubicz said.

The as­so­ci­a­tion is rais­ing money in the com­mu­nity for the memo­rial. Peo­ple can pur­chase a brick for the memo­rial’s foun­da­tion, with their name en­graved on it by a laser. Peo­ple can also con­trib­ute to the as­so­ci­a­tion to sup­port ei­ther the memo­rial or the or­ga­ni­za­tion’s other cen­ten­nial pro­grams.

Dig­ni­taries at Fri­day’s cel­e­bra­tion pre­sented over­sized checks to as­so­ci­a­tion lead­ers rep­re­sent­ing their con­tri­bu­tions, such as a $40,000 tourism grant from Har­ford County, $5,000 from HCC and $5,000 from Free­dom Fed­eral Credit Union.

Visit the as­so­ci­a­tion’s web­site, http:// apg100.org, for more in­for­ma­tion on mak­ing do­na­tions, as well as APG’s his­tory and the cen­ten­nial cel­e­bra­tion.

Of­fi­cials with the cen­ten­nial as­so­ci­a­tion are look­ing be­yond next year’s cel­e­bra­tion, though, as they plan to build a Tech­nol­ogy, Her­itage and Ed­u­ca­tion Cen­ter in Aberdeen to honor APG’s his­tory and its role in Har­ford County. The cen­ter would ri­val the for­mer Army Ord­nance Mu­seum, which was on the APG grounds un­til it closed about seven years ago and moved to Ft. Lee, Va.

Barney Michel, pres­i­dent of the as­so­ci­a­tion said the pro­posed cen­ter will be a “last­ing per­ma­nent fix­ture in the com­mu­nity of Aberdeen rec­og­niz­ing the tech­nol­ogy that has grown out of Aberdeen Prov­ing Ground for the last 100 years that has lit­er­ally changed the world.”

The City of Aberdeen will cel­e­brate its 125th an­niver­sary next year, the same time as APG’s cen­ten­nial, Mayor Pa­trick McGrady said.

“The city is a gate­way to one of the na­tion’s pre­mier re­search and de­vel­op­ment, test and eval­u­a­tion in­stal­la­tions and has wel­comed hun­dreds of thou­sands of APG’s work­force into its com­mu­nity,” Karen Holt, Har­ford County’s eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment di­rec­tor, said.

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