Revelation brought gasps at Memorial Day service
HUGHESVILLE – As the nation’s citizenry paused to honor its war dead, so too did area residents who gathered on Memorial Day, May 27 at Pleasant Hill Cemetery at Hughesville. The audience soon learned why the speaker needed no teleprompter or index cards as SGM Lonnie Spicher’s personal losses are indelibly written on his heart. The names of five former military individuals from the speaker’s past were prominently displayed on a poster. Falling into three categories they included a family member, a classmate and students.
Serving during WWII were the speaker’s father and five uncles. At age 22, Paul I. Spicher drowned in the South Pacific when a Japanese destroyer rammed the PT boat on which the Navy man was aboard.
The second inference was a fatality of the Vietnam War. Dennis E. Hoffman was a high school classmate killed one day short of his 20th birthday. “I was in college when the news came inviting me to play taps at the funeral. I hitch-hiked home to find that though Dennis was in the Army, the Marine Corps sent an honor guard complete with bugler. The officer in charge came within an inch of my nose and stated if I couldn’t do it, they could. I told them to send their bugler home,” the speaker recounted.
Doug Musselman, a member of a football quad Spicher coached, went on to enlist in the Marine ROTC program. The speaker indicated that, “Doug was a helicopter co-pilot assigned to transport President Ronald Reagan. Arriving home tired one evening from a long flight, he was picked up by his wife and on the way home died when thrown from their car.”
Another of the speaker’s football players, Neal Lippy, also a pilot, died in a helicopter crash in Okinawa a year to the day Musselman was killed.
In unison, the crowd gasps when hearing the account of the demise of the last listed individual. Michael Horrocks was another student formerly coached by the speaker. Like many pilots following military service, Horrocks became a commercial flyer. “Michael was the co-pilot on the second plane to go in the twin towers.” With firm emphasis, Spicher admonished that, “We must never forget 9/11.”
The speaker called for special remembrances of Gold Star families by saying, “These families still exist and their grief has a long shelf life. Let us pause to remember what this day is about.”
As an introduction, SGM Lonnie Spicher retired from the United States Army after serving from 1970 until 1994. He is a member of numerous veterans’ organizations including holding life membership in the Franklin W. Sidler Post 40 in Danville where he served as past Commander; the VFW, the 40&8 and AMVETS. Currently Spicher is the finance officer for District 17 of the American Legion.
Spicher’s civilian education includes a B.A. from Elizabethtown College in 1969, Shippensburg University in 1981 and Post Masters from Temple University. The Schuylkill County native is well known in our area, presenting Memorial Day programs in several surrounding areas.
Donated by Spicher and his wife and accepted by MSG Mickey Maneval on behalf of Post 36, a tile is to be placed at the Post. From a familiar quote, the inscription reads, “All Gave Some, Some Gave All.”
The day’s pageantry included presentations of flags, wreaths and volleys by host members of Glenn Sharrow American Legion Post 35; Boy Scout Troop 26, also music and taps by the Hughesville High School Band.
Artwork on the program bulletins noted the 100th anniversary of the American Legion, additional wording stating “Veterans Still Serving America.”