Category Archives: Event

Veterans Day 2020: Taps Across America


Last month, Dick Slease (in photo, on the right), president of Brunswick Bands, Inc., contacted Friends of Fort Caswell Rifle Range with a request. Dick wanted to organize a Taps Across America tribute at the rifle range on Veterans Day.

This was a continuation of the effort that began in May for Memorial Day. Because the pandemic caused the cancellation of commemorations, musicians were encouraged to play Taps wherever they stood at 3pm on Memorial Day. Across America, tens of thousands of soloists played Taps on porches, parking lots – wherever they were. According to CBS News (story link below), it was one of the largest musical performances of all time.

For Veterans Day, the musicians were urged to choose a World War I memorial. The Fort Caswell Rifle Range was the site chosen by local musician Dick Slease, Ben Edwards, the Director of Music and teacher at South Brunswick Middle School, and Alex Gilland, a student at South Brunswick High School

Before playing Taps, Dick made the following remarks:

Good morning and thank you for coming.

I’m Dick Slease, President of Brunswick Bands Inc., and joining me on this very special day is Ben Edwards, the Director of Music and teacher at South Brunswick Middle School and Alex Gilland who is a student at South Brunswick High School.

We are taking part in a nationwide event to honor those who served in all the armed forces which were necessary to the creation and defense of our country. This event is sponsored by Bugles Across America, an offshoot of Taps Across America, a nationwide conglomeration of brass instrumentalists who play Taps on their front porch at noon on Memorial Day in commemoration of those individuals whose lives were taken in the course of the defense of our country against enemies who only wanted to see our downfall.

Veterans Day, today, is the day that we honor all who served and successfully defended our nation.  The Great War was declared ended when an armistice was signed in Northern France at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918. That event gave birth to “Armistice Day” on Nov. 11, 1919, the first anniversary of the end of World War I. Congress approved the burial of an unidentified American soldier from World War I in the plaza of Arlington National Cemetery’s new Memorial Amphitheater in March of 1921.

We are gathered here at the Ft. Caswell Rifle Pit to honor all veterans, but specifically the World War I veterans who served from Brunswick County, North Carolina.

Ladies and gentlemen, will you please stand proudly while Taps is sounded.

You can now view the video here:

You can read and hear more about the Memorial Day Taps Across America here. In that story, Jari Villanueva was interviewed about his group, Taps for Veterans, which also sponsored the event. Mr. Villanueva’s website was used as the source for a photo of the trench bugle (pictured here) for our WWI Profile for William Ralph Smith. A donation was made to his website at that time.

At left, Norma Eckard, president of Friends of Fort Caswell Rifle Range, lays the wreath at the rifle range. The wreath was made by her friend in West Virginia, Barbara Conway. Thank you, Barbara!

Thank you to Richard Stone for the photo of the musicians.

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Veterans Day 2020

The final Roll Call was planned to be held at the Fort Caswell Rifle Range today, completing two years of reciting the names of the 718 known Brunswick County WWI veterans.

The names of 14 Fort Caswell nurses were to be included.

Like many activities, the Roll Call will have to wait for safer times.

Stay tuned for photos and a touching tribute to veterans planned for today.

Read about previous Veteran Day commemorations:
2018 Veterans Day WWI Centennial Commemoration and Dedication
Veterans Day 2019: Continuing to Honor Those Who Served.

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More books were sold at the second event. A third event has been added.

The second book signing and purchase was held on Saturday, October 31, 2020, at the Caswell Beach Town Hall. A number of supporters visited, including a special surprise by our publisher, Daniel Norris!

Teresa McLamb donated $500 to purchase books for 3 county high schools and 3 county libraries. Teresa is shown here with Norma as she picks up an additional book for Brunswick Community College. Teresa has also submitted a photo of an ancestor in his WWI uniform with his unit in what appears to be France. An entry will be added to our WWI Wall of Honor soon.

Daniel Norris, our publisher from Slapdash Publishing, visited for a long while, entertaining everyone with his stories and sharing his approach to the formatting of the book. Daniel said that he’s proud of his part in the making of the book. According to Daniel, “The stories of each soldier and nurse are wonderful to read. It will make you want to stand up and pledge allegiance to our great American flag and remember all those who have served to preserve our republic.” Thank you, Daniel! It was a pleasure to work with you!

We continue to hear from readers. We are particularly grateful to hear from those who discover ancestors through our research. One reader reached out to us, saying, “You cannot believe how much this has helped me in my family research.” Feedback like this has made the past nine years of work worthwhile.

We can’t thank everyone enough for sharing your stories and photos!

Weather permitting, there will be another book signing and purchase next Saturday, November 7, 2020,
from noon – 3 pm,
outside at the same location (see map below):
Caswell Beach Town Hall
1100 Caswell Beach Road
Caswell Beach, NC 28465

The plan to hold these events at various locations across Brunswick County has been placed on hold for now.

You may also purchase a book now by using this link, which is also at the top right of the webpage. We should point out that this is not a fundraiser. The price of the books was chosen to cover the publishing and printing costs.

Thank you to the DAR member Jane Freach who assisted, and Daniel Norris for sharing his photos.

Thank you to Caswell Beach Mayor Deborah Ahlers and Town Administrator/Finance Officer Jeff Griffin for allowing us to hold our event at the town hall.

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Thank you to those who attended the first book signing!

The Friends of Fort Caswell Rifle Range was excited to hold the first book signing and purchase on Saturday, October 24, 2020, at the Caswell Beach Town Hall. We were pleased with the number of books sold and happy to meet new friends.

It is rewarding to hear from those who treasure this tribute to Brunswick County WWI veterans. This journey has been one we too will treasure: the opportunity to learn more about your courageous ancestors.

We were happy to have former military Jack Gowling, Jim Conklin, and Rich Romer be the first in line to purchase a book.

Trudy Young and daughter Marie stopped to visit and purchase books. Trudy’s great uncle John (Johan) Daniel Eriksen was born in Norway and immigrated to Southport when he was 14. He came from a family of 11 and left home to be a cabin boy on a ship. His parents told him he had to return home after two years to go to engineering school. He went back 30 years later to visit his mother. He served in the Great War with the newly formed 56th Engineers (Searchlight). From 1935 to 1949 he was the mayor of Southport. Trudy shared a great deal of information about her great uncle and the Friends appreciate her interesting facts. She lives in the home where her great uncle and his wife spent most of their lives. His profile is on page 300 in the book. You can read his WWI Profile on the website here.

We also met Kirk James, who was responsible for finding de-classified information about the building of the rifle range that may also be found in the book. We thank Kirk who bought and donated two hardback books for Harper and Barbee Public Libraries.

Thank you for sharing your stories and photos and thank you to those of you who continue to serve our country.

Weather permitting, there will be another book signing and purchase next Saturday, October 31, 2020,
from noon – 3 pm,
outside at the same location (see map below):
Caswell Beach Town Hall
1100 Caswell Beach Road
Caswell Beach, NC 28465

We are pursuing the possibility of holding these events at various locations across Brunswick County, and will update the website with details.

You may also purchase a book now by using this link, which is also at the top right of the webpage.

Thank you to the DAR members who assisted: Jane Freach, Mary Sands, and Phyllis Wilson who provided the photos here.

Thank you to Caswell Beach Mayor Deborah Ahlers and Town Administrator/Finance Officer Jeff Griffin for allowing us to hold our event at the town hall.

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Brunswick County in the Great War arrives this week.

The Friends of Fort Caswell Rifle Range is excited to announce the arrival of their book
Brunswick County in the Great War
Preserving the 1918 Fort Caswell Rifle Range and the Legacies of the Men and Women Who Served.

Book signings and semi-drive-thru purchase

Book signings and semi-drive-thru purchase will be available during the next couple of Saturdays beginning
October 24, 2020, at the Caswell Beach Town Hall, 1100 Caswell Beach Road,
Caswell Beach, NC 28465, outside from noon-3:00 pm.

Masks and Social Distancing are the plan.

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Veterans Day 2019: Continuing to Honor Those Who Served

The family of WWI Veteran and POW Pvt Robert Bollie Stanley was honored at the event.

Approximately 60 people attended the Veterans Day WWI Commemoration on a warm and sunny Monday morning on November 11, 2019.

At 11:00am, the time the Armistice went into effect 101 years ago, Norma Eckard, president of Friends of Fort Caswell Rifle Range began the program.

This year, the special guests were the family of WWI Brunswick County veteran and only POW, Pvt Robert Bollie Stanley.

Two grandchildren of Pvt Stanley (Fred Stanley and Deborah Bolin) began the continuation of the Roll Call for Brunswick County WWI veterans. Descendants who participated in previous commemorations returned: Gwen Clemmons Causey (granddaughter of Sgt Henry Lindon Clemmons) and David Lewis (grandson of Lt David Elton Lewis). Two were unable to attend, but are listed below.

For several years, descendants have attended the ceremonies held at the Fort Caswell Rifle Range. Their presence adds meaning to the Roll Calls. We have been honored to have the following special guests attend past commemorations:

Many descendants of WWI veterans from locations other than Brunswick County have also participated and attended past commemorations. Many have submitted photos for the WWI Wall of Honor.

If your name is not listed here, we apologize and ask that you please contact us. If any descendants wish to participate or attend future commemorative events, it would be an honor to include you.

The program and script is available here for display or download: 2019 Veterans Day Ceremony Transcript (updated Nov. 14, 2019)

Thank you for those who attended and the marvelous supporters and donors!

The State Port Pilot and Brunswick Beacon published stories about the ceremony. They can be downloaded here:
Veterans Day at the 101-year-old Fort Caswell Rifle Range (bottom of page) and
Veterans honored at Fort Caswell Rifle Range ceremony. They are also available on the News section of the website.

Photos courtesy of Phyllis Wilson. Thank you!

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Veterans Day 2019

“Our dead are never dead to us, until we have forgotten them” – George Eliot

The program for today’s Roll Call will be posted soon.

WWI Snapshots will continue next week.

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Invitation to the 2019 Veterans Day Roll Call on November 11

On Monday, November 11th, Veterans Day, at 11:00 am, the Roll Call continues for the 724 men and one woman nurse who served in WWI from Brunswick County. It will once again be held beside the 1918 Rifle Range Memorial at Caswell Beach.

The event is sponsored jointly by the Brunswick Town Chapter NSDAR and the Friends of Fort Caswell Rifle Range. The Southport Historical Society Firing Crew will fire Thor in commemoration of the veterans’ service. Gwen Causey, locally known for her historic focus and knowledge of Brunswick County will speak: “Brunswick County, 1900-1921.”

The public is welcome. Please bring a folding chair. For safety, be sure to park in condo parking lots and not on the roadside.

Photo courtesy of Christine Urick; April 2019 Roll Call

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An interview with Back Porch Rockers, performing at Oktoberfest in Caswell Beach this Saturday

Reminder:
Oktoberfest in Caswell Beach is this Saturday, October 12, 2019

Call 910-278-7584 for tickets.

Note that overflow parking is available up the street at the BB&T Bank. It is a short walk to the Oktoberfest held at the Fire Station.

When did the band decide to entertain FREE for non profit events?
When we formed the band in 2016, we decided that we would perform only for legitimate non-profits and charities. We do perform for private parties, but we have a requirement for them to raise a minimum of $1000 for a charity of their choice. This has never been a problem. Several private parties we have done have exceeded over $3,000. We are all retired and this is one of the ways we donate back to the community we live in.

How many years have you been doing this for non profits?
As stated above since the inception of our band in April of 2016.

Approximately how much has the band earned for non profits?
Well, there are bands that track this info, but we do not. A couple of reasons, first, it is not that important to know how much we help raise, it is far more important to us, that we are able to help. We don’t actually raise any money, we just provide the entertainment, and as you know there are many others involved who assist in organizing fund raisers. We did track this dollar information in our first year or so and if I had to guess, we have helped raise approximately $200K over the past few years.

How many events have you done in 2019?
We are scheduled to perform for 18 events in this calendar year. We have done 13 to date.

What about the funds you need to continue?  Instruments, gas, etc.
All expenses are absorbed by the band members, it is our way of helping the cause.

Give us some info on the members of the band.  Their love of music,
playing for audiences, etc.  Tell us about your band.

Steve Privott, our lead guitarist, is from Virginia and has been playing since he was 13 years old. He played and recorded professionally in the 60’s and has shared the stage with performers including The Yardbirds, The Loving Spoonful and Neil Diamond.

Kurt Chismark, performs vocals and percussion for our band, has an extensive background in music including a Music & Recording Industry Certification from San Francisco State University.

Martin Murphy, our bass player, also performs vocals and 6 string guitar and our music arrangements. Martin began playing guitar in high school and played in a popular Cleveland, Ohio band that opened for both national and international touring acts before retiring from the music business. Taking up music again in the 80’s, Martin began played electric bass for a 10-piece R&B group then for an acoustic guitar act. After another prolonged absence from music, he retired to the Southport area in 2015 and began playing again.

Dave Testa is our drummer and provides back-up vocals. Dave had an early interest in music inherited from a singing mother. This inclination was reinforced by an older brother who played drums in a high school rock and roll band. Dave’s earliest bands were in High School, with one locally successful soul band just before college. He then retired from playing for about 30 years and then a revival as his wife encouraged him to get back into music. He has played for several groups here in the area before bringing his talents to our band.

Jim Irvine, guitar, began playing music in 5th grade by taking piano lessons. He switched to playing Trumpet in 6th through 8th grade taking lessons and playing in the school band. When the “British Invasion” hit America Jim took up playing a 12 String Guitar. Jim left music when he was in his early 20’s and got a real job. Around 2010, with the encouragement of his wife got back into music and started taking lessons again, where he met several other students that eventually formed the band.

Linda Harlow, guitar and vocals, began her musical venture by playing her older sister’s accordian and then her younger sister’s guitar. She played with several small groups in college but gave it up when she started her professional work career as a French professor. After moving to Southport in 2010 she began taking guitar lessons and eventually helped form our band.

Randy Lewis, guitar and vocals began his journey into music very late in life. Growing up, he never showed any interest in music although his parents and siblings were very involved in music. After retiring a dear friend of his sent him a nice guitar in 2014. He started taking lessons from his instructor and mentor in Oak Island who then, convinced him to sing as well. After meeting and playing with a few other students, specifically, Linda Harlow, Jim Irvine and Dave Testa, the idea of a band was born.

To summarize, we all have a very strong love of our music and our desire to perform for others. All of us are still learning to be entertainers. Several of us help other bands when the need arises and all of us are involved in other volunteering positions. We love what we do and we love this community.

What about the turnover?  Do you have much?
We have had no turnover since we started performing publicly.

Do any other bands in Brunswick County play for non profits?
There is one other band that I am aware, that plays exclusively for charities and non-profits. Mike’s Garage Band has been doing this for approximately 10 years. Their fundraising revenues and have exceeded over $1million! Their band has done such great things for this area. They are great friends and supporters of our band.

Additionally, most every band down here will play a benefit or fundraiser from time to time. The band that we referred for your fundraiser earlier this year, Trilogy and their jazz band, are prime examples.

The Friends are feeling fortunate that there are people like the Back Porch Rockers that consider the plight of non profits by helping with their fundraisers. Those of us that are passionate about historic preservation, the aged, young children, pets and others thank these folks for their time, love of what they are doing and doing it with a happy heart. Again, we thank them!

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Reminder: Oktoberfest in Caswell Beach is next Saturday, October 12.

Friends of Fort Caswell Rifle Range Fundraiser
Click for more information:
Oktoberfest in Caswell Beach

Call 910-278-7584 for tickets.

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