August 22, 2019

Motorcade to Solomons Kicks Off Operation Patuxent

For Operation Patuxent, SPAMtime T/5 Vince “SPAM” Turner and Pfc. Vincent “Bubba” Turner will reenact a 1942 radio broadcast of music from the WWII era, 6 to 9 pm Aug. 2 at the gazebo on the Solomons Riverwalk.

Operation Patuxent, hosted by Circle of Angels Initiative, will kick off Friday evening with a mini-Rolling Thunder tribute motorcade to Solomons followed by a World War II night of remembrance and music.

The motorcade will form at 5 pm Aug. 2 across from Naval Air Station Patuxent River Gate 2 in Lexington Park. The public is invited to line the parade route along Route 235 until the turn for the bridge to Solomons or to greet the motorcade in Solomons. SPAMtime T/5 Vince “SPAM” Turner and Pfc. Vincent “Bubba” Turner will reenact a 1942 radio broadcast of music from the World War II era from 6 to 9 pm at the gazebo on the Solomons Riverwalk. There will be a wreath laying to honor all who have died in the service of the country and to especially commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Normandy invasion.

All WWII veterans and uniformed services are invited to participate in the motorcade and to remain for the commemorative activities. Participants are encouraged to contact Samuel Williams at 301-991-4048 or director@circleofangels.org to reserve a spot in the motorcade.

Local Maryland WWII historical sites are connected to the 75th anniversary of the Normandy invasion. Warfighters trained for the WWII invasion of Normandy at Solomons Island.

Known as WWII USO Night of Remembrance and Music for 11 years, the Circle of Angels renamed the commemorative event Operation Patuxent (OpPAX) to more closely describe the activities which now include a motorcade. An added bonus in renaming the August event is the fact that “pax” in Latin means
“peace.”

SPAMtime Pfc. Vincent “Bubba” Turner prepares the wreath as part of passing the torch to youth at the WWII commemorative event, Operation Patuxent. This year’s OpPAX will be held from 6 to 9 pm Aug. 2 on the Solomons Riverwalk.

Since the Circle of Angels works in the interfaith community to promote understanding between faith communities, in police/community relations, and on the tough issues of the day such homelessness and addiction, OpPAX is an appropriate name for an event hosted by the Circle. Every year the Circle hosts this commemorative event to honor all in uniform and those who wait and serve on the home front at the local historical sites such as NAS Pax River and Solomons Island, “the cradle of invasion.”

Free and open to the public, OpPAX commemorates southern Maryland’s historic WWII sites on the Patuxent River. In WWII warfighters trained at the top secret Naval Amphibious Training Base-Solomons. Across the water at NAS Pax they tested planes. NAS Pax is still operational. The link to WWII here in Maryland is ironic because troops went from Solomon in Maryland to the Solomon Sea islands in the Pacific in the first invasion of the war. The names of Iwo Jima, Guadalcanal, and Normandy are famous because of the fierce courage of the warfighters who invaded those beaches.

The Circle called last year’s motorcade Operation Solomon Cradle of Invasion and commemorated both 9/11 and the 100th Anniversary of the WWI Armistice. Last year, WWII Army veteran Methuselah Pumphrey laid a wreath at the commemoration alongside WWII Navy veteran, former senator Bernie Fowler, and Post Commander Sgt. Major Mike Eason of the Veterans of Foreign Wars at VFW 9376, awarded Commander of the Year in 2018. His VFW post is now ranked as the No. 1 VFW post in the world.

“We were totally privileged to have such luminaries lay the wreaths for us last year,” said Roseanna Vogt, director of the Circle. “Mr. Pumphrey wasn’t allowed to train for combat because of segregation in WWII and it seemed important to us to recognize that he served. He trained in Alabama, served in Europe, and returned to buy a farm and work as an entrepreneur. He was an important part of our community. Mr. Pumphrey passed away in December. I went to his funeral. So did Sgt. Major Eason. The Turners laid a wreath to honor him at the gravesite. They dressed in full authentic WWII Army uniforms like he would have worn. It was very moving for us. The family told us over and over how grateful they were.”

SPAMtime T/5 Vince “SPAM” Turner prepares for the commemorative WWII event, Operation Patuxent, from 6 to 9 pm Aug. 2 at the Solomons Riverwalk pavilion.

“The oldest living graduate of West Point, USAF Colonel Kermit Robert Dyke, of Solomons, passed away in May,” Vogt continued. “He was honored with a ‘missing man formation’ flight out of NAS Pax. We can’t do anything as spectacular as that but, in our small way, we will honor, remember, and salute the sacrifice of those who fought for us during WWII. We are adding the motorcade to our commemorative activities to honor all our veterans and especially as many from WWII as are willing and able to come out. If you are a WWII veteran or have a family member who is a WWII vet, we want to hear from you.”

Once the motorcade arrives at Solomons, SPAMtime will entertain with “jump and jive” music from the era that all ages enjoy. A wreath-laying ceremony will be at 7 pm. After the ceremony, the public will be invited to throw rose petals into the waters of the Patuxent. The roses have special names, “Peace and Love,” “Remembrance,” and “WWII Memorial Rose.” Taps are at dusk. The commemorative event is held in the spirit of the WWII-era United Services Organization, or USO, which began with citizens who served coffee and doughnuts to soldiers passing through their towns.

“It’s a very simple honoring. It’s what ordinary citizens can do to honor those who fought for us in WWII. We honor because of the number of people who gave their lives in the invasions in the Pacific and at Normandy. It’s hard for us today to even imagine what it must have been like,” Vogt said. “Those brave people went from Solomons here to Solomons in the Pacific and then to the bloody beaches of Normandy. The stories are chilling and we feel that we must remember them. We also want to honor those who wait at home, the families and friends, home front heroes and heroines, who support them.”

 

To learn more about Lexington Park, visit the St. Mary’s County Community Development Corporation’s Leader member page.

St. Mary’s County Community Development Corporation

46940 South Shangri-La Drive, Suite 7

Lexington Park, MD 20653

301-863-7700

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