This week, we are readying for our second annual “go-round” of Wreaths Across America Day at Mount Olivet Cemetery here in Frederick on Saturday, December 14th. Along with the famed Arlington National Cemetery and 1,600 additional locations throughout the United States, and at sea and abroad, we are hosting an event in which volunteers and fundraising sponsorship partners will help enact the mission of Remembering, Honoring and Teaching through the placement of special wreaths on veteran graves.
We have over 4,000 men and women buried here, having served in the US military and ranging from conflicts which include the American Revolution, War of 1812, the Mexican War, American Civil War, Spanish-American War, the World Wars, Korea and Vietnam. They are currently marked with small flaglets (since Veterans Day), something that also occurs here on Memorial Day thanks to our local Francis Scott Key Chapter of the American Legion.
Our goal is to have all of the graves marked by wreaths in future years, however we will be able to cover about one-third thanks to generous contributors who sponsored wreaths online or through our fundraising partners. Some of these groups include the Homewood at Frederick Auxiliary, Cub Scout Pack 287, American Heritage Girls Troop 3126, and the Upper Montgomery Composite Squadron Civil Air.
Many know that there is another annual tradition with military-themed roots occurring on the same day this year as Wreaths Across America Day—the famed Army-Navy game. This annual football classic is one of the most traditional and enduring rivalries in college football. It involves a matchup between the Army Black Knights of the United States Military Academy (USMA) at West Point, New York, and the Navy Midshipmen of the United States Naval Academy (USNA) at Annapolis, Maryland.
The Black Knights (alternatively known as the "Cadets") and Midshipmen each represent their service's oldest officer commissioning sources. As such, the game has come to embody the spirit of the interservice rivalry of the United States Armed Forces. The first meeting was back in 1890. Today, the game marks the end of the college football regular season and the third and final game of the season's Commander-in-Chief's Trophy series, which also includes the Air Force Falcons of the United States Air Force Academy (USAFA) near Colorado Springs, Colorado.
The game has been held in multiple locations, but outside the 1926 game in Chicago and 1983 game in Pasadena, California, it has been played in the Northeast, most frequently in Philadelphia, followed by the New York area and the Baltimore–Washington area. The series has been marked by several periods of domination by one team or the other, with Navy's 14-game winning streak from 2002 through 2015 being the longest for either side. Through the 2018 meeting, Navy leads the series 60–52–7, but has lost the last three games.
A former Fredericktonian buried here in Mount Olivet will surely have his grave adorned with a wreath this weekend. Interestingly, he knew the Army-Navy game intimately and better than anybody in town. His name was Glenn C. Wilhide and he was a multi-time participant—as a player.
Born on June 30th, 1898 in Walkersville, Glenn Castle Wilhide was the son of David and Amanda Mae Hahn Wilhide. Young Glenn would attend, and graduate, from Boys’ High School, the predecessor to Frederick High School. He was a standout Frederick Cadet and athlete and went on to attend Gettysburg College just up the road from Frederick. He was here for one year and played football and baseball at Gettysburg, but I found out later from a news article that he wasn’t a starter while at Gettysburg. This would soon change.
Glenn continued his education in 1918 by entering the United States Military Academy at West Point. Continuing to exhibit his athletic skills, Glenn not only played for the Black Knights varsity football and baseball teams. He played three years of football and four years of baseball. He served as team captain of the 1920 football team, and two years as captain of the baseball team. He played quarterback for the Knights in 1919 and 1920. Unfortunately, he did not celebrate victory over Navy on either occasion as his squad fell 6-0 and 7-0 in consecutive years.
Another interesting game that Glenn Wilhide was part of featured a matchup against Notre Dame on October 30th, 1920. Army hosted the Fighting Irish under Coach Knute Rockne. I Irish prevailed 27-17 in what has been called George Gipp's best game as a player. Known more famously by his nickname, "the Gipper" put on a superhero display with his punting, passing and running.
In baseball, Wilhide excelled for Army as well, and specifically served as a second baseman. After graduation from West Point, he found time to play professional baseball for the Frederick Hustlers of the Class D Blue Ridge League.
Following graduation in 1922, Glenn C. Wilhide entered the US Army and spent most of his military career in the Ordnance Corps. He would be stationed in various locations around the country, the first being Vancouver Barracks in Vancouver, Washington. He also worked in the private sector and stops included Pittsburgh, Detroit, Columbus, Ohio and Hawaii. In 1942, Maj. Wilhide was the commanding officer of the Gary Armor Plate Plant located in Gary, Indiana. Along the way, he would marry his wife, Margaret Hagedorn of Portland, Oregon. The couple had two sons, Glenn C., Jr. and Robert. Glenn would marry again, Clara Grove, a niece of our baseball stadium namesake, Harry Grove.
In the military, Wilhide would attain the rank of colonel. His last assignment was as commanding officer of the Detroit Ordnance Arsenal. Following Col. Wilhide’s retirement from the military, he worked a short time with Garwood Industries in Detroit, Michigan, and later was with the T. Edgie Russell Company of Frederick, a major highway contracting firm.
Glenn C. Wilhide had the opportunity to see the Army-Navy game in person, and to listen to on radio and eventually watch on television for the following 61 years after handling quarterback and captain duties for the Army Black Knights of West Point. He lived his final years in Newtown Square, PA, dying on May 6th, 1983 at Dunwoody Village Medical Center in Pennsylvania. Col. Wilhide’s body came back to Frederick and was buried on May 12th, 1983. He would be buried in Mount Olivet’s Area LL, Lot 191.
In 1979, Glenn Wilhide was elected to the Frederick County YMCA Sports Hall of Fame. I thought it was well worth the time to single out this particular Frederick athlete and Mount Olivet veteran this year, as this year's Army-Navy game marks the 100th anniversary of when he, himself, lined up behind center and led his Army team against the Midshipman for the first time back in 1919. And maybe, just maybe, his squad will get the victory again this year.
NOTE: Many of the great images used here are courtesy of a comprehensive website dedicated to Army Football and called For What They Gave www.forwhattheygave.com forwhattheygave.com/2007/12/11/1920-football-team/