Port veteran to receive a special gift for his 95th birthday

Weldon Reed, who is believed to be the last surviving member of the Maryland Minute Men, will be presented with his discharge papers

Weldon Reed Photo by Sam Arendt
Ozaukee Press staff

When Weldon Reed turns 95 later this month, he will have a special birthday gift — his discharge papers from the Maryland Minute Men.

Those papers, signed by the Maryland governor in 1945, when the Minute Men were disbanded, were given to the Hampstead, Md., American Legion to distribute to local members of the militia. 

They were never handed out, however. Instead, the 67 certificates of appreciation and discharge sat in a corner of the Legion hall until last year, when the post historian discovered them and went on a search to give the former Minute Men their due.

Reed, who is believed to be the last surviving member of the Hampstead Minute Men, will receive those papers during a special ceremony at noon Friday, March 29, at the Belgium American Legion hall.

“This is a unique opportunity to honor a veteran,” Legion Commander Jerry Keller said. “It’s really important to not let his service go unsung.” 

Reed said he and a group of friends joined the Maryland Minute Men in Hampstead, Md., where he grew up, while in high school.

“We were just a bunch of kids,” he said.

The Minute Men were a volunteer World War II militia, created by Gov. Herbert O’Connor in 1942 to protect the state in the case of an invasion from enemy forces, said Harry Griffith, historian for the Hampstead, Md., Legion post.

At the time, Griffith said, there was fear that the Nazis would use submarines to drop troops off on the East Coast. The Minute Men were to defend the area until the regular Army could arrive and take up the fight.

The men were to provide their own guns — Reed said he used his father’s .22 rifle — and uniforms. They were given a special arm band and cap.

Reed said they met once or twice a week, occasionally conducting exercises and marches.

The Minute Men were disbanded and honorably discharged in May 1945. Sixty-seven certificates of discharge and appreciation signed by the governor were sent to the Hampstead American Legion Post 200 to be distributed to the local members, but they were never given out, Griffith said.

Last year, he said, he was cleaning up the post and discovered the certificates in a corner, piled high with stuff.

“I didn’t know what they were at first,” he said. “Nobody knew what to do with them. By the time I found them, almost everybody was dead.”

So he went on a quest to find the former Minute Men and their survivors, running stories in local newspapers to find these men.

It’s important, Griffith said, that these men be recognized, even if they never saw combat.

“They were on call. They served our country,” Griffith said. “They’re a forgotten part of history, and they should be remembered. If anything every happened here on the coast, they would be called up as the first line of defense.”

About forty families have contacted him, Griffith said.

One of those family members was John Sullivan, Reed’s stepson, who personally brought Reed’s certificate to Wisconsin and contacted the Belgium Legion to arrange to have it presented to Reed.

Keller said it’s been a privilege to put together the ceremony.

“As the certificates were lost, so was the respect due to these gentlemen,” he said. “We can’t lose track of what they did. This is tremendously important.”

Reed’s military service didn’t end with the Minute Men. Just after high school, he built B-26 bombers at the Glenn Martin Aircraft Plant. He was drafted into the Army on May 11, 1944, trained in field artillery and advanced infantry and was sent to France.

“As we sailed, we could hear the depth charges exploding,” he said of his 12-day trip to Europe aboard the French ship Athos 11.

When the war in Europe ended, his outfit returned to the U.S. to be deployed to the Asian Theater. But the atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, ending the war before his unit left.

Reed concluded his time in the Army at the Field Artillery School in Oklahoma, then remained in the Army Reserves until 1965, when he retired as a captain of field artillery.

He earned a degree in biology and worked as a bacteriologist on the government’s anthrax project at Fort Detrick, Md. After working for several firms, he moved to Ozaukee County — first to Belgium and later to Port Washington — to take a job with Freeman Chemical in Saukville.

He has been active with the Belgium American Legion and the Port Washington Veterans of Foreign Wars.


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Ozaukee Press

Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

125 E. Main St.
Port Washington, WI 53074
(262) 284-3494


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