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Last Surviving World War II Veteran Member, Ernest “Ernie” Moreland, Dies at the Age of 92

CHVFD Mourns the Longest Serving Treasurer and Battle of the Bulge POW

It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Ernest Moreland, better known to his friends as Ernie, on Thursday, December 23, 2010, at the age of 92.

Ernie joined the Capitol Heights Volunteer Fire Department in 1936 and served his department for more than seven decades, giving new meaning to the term “lifetime member.” He held many offices within the department including President from 1957 through 1962; and the office of Treasurer.

Ernie was mainly a quiet fellow, who took his job as Treasurer very seriously, but when you wanted to buy something, you needed to be prepared. You needed to be able to explain why you needed something and what fund the money should come from; while this may have seemed a little much to some, Ernie was teaching us that there is big a difference between things we need and things we want; there would be no frivolous spending on Ernie’s watch. He was also handing down knowledge to the newer members about what the different funds could be used for. These valuable lessons helped prepare future generations of the Capitol Heights Volunteer Fire Department to better understand some of the administrative processes of running a fire department and reminded them to use sound judgment.

In 1989, he was named Treasurer Emeritus, for his faithful service as CHVFD Treasurer for over 25 years; the company dedicated Engine 52 to Ernie to show their appreciation for his commitment. Even after his departure from the position, members would call other treasurers who cracked that same financial whip “Ernie.” You couldn’t mention the office of Treasurer without Ernie’s name being invoked.

As a firefighter, Ernie also saw his share of fires. In October 1959, he was on the scene of the most devastating fire in Capitol Heights history at the Stembler and Ford Lumber Company. Operating a hoseline in a narrow alley between the Lumber Company and a neighboring house the crew lost water. Even though the lumberyard was a total loss, and loss of water during the blaze hampered their suppression efforts, the fire did not extend to the neighboring house. It was due to Ernie and other Capitol Heights Volunteer Fire Department members that the neighboring structure was saved.

In 1997, Ernie was inducted into the Prince George’s County Volunteer Fire and Rescue Association Hall of Fame for his distinguished service to the department and the community.

At the Maryland State Fireman’s Convention in Ocean City, you’d often see Ernie there with his grandson, Joe. When he wasn’t representing the company at meetings or conducting company business, you could also count on Ernie to give the younger swimmers a run for their money at the hotel pool.

Ernie left his mark not only on Capitol Heights Volunteer Fire Department but also on his country. He joined the military at a young age and served as part of the D.C. Army National Guard. Ernie, like many other guard members, was called to arms with the outbreak of World War II. Sergeant Moreland served with the 106th Infantry Division, which saw plenty of action in Europe; he and over 6,000 of his fellow infantrymen where captured in a fierce battle at Ardennes, which later became known as the “Battle of the Bulge.” After being held for several months at Stalag 9B in Bad Orb, Germany, just outside Frankfurt, which was known for its brutal treatment of prisoners, the Allied Forces later liberated the camp. Ernie was then able to return home to his family. They still have the Western Union telegram that told them he was missing in action.

Even though Ernie was a war hero and an asset to the Capitol Heights Volunteer Fire Department, he didn’t boast about his service to others. However, when you talked to him about the military or the fire department, you couldn’t help but see him glow with pride.

Ernie served both his country and community with honor; he did not serve for the recognition that it brought, he served because it was the right thing to do. The quiet example he set reminds us that through dedication, hard work, and service to others we gain pride in ourselves and in our department.

Ernie was proud of his service, of his department, and he enjoyed the friendships that he had built over the years in the department. The officers and members of the Capitol Heights Volunteer Fire Department are honored to call Ernie our friend and are grateful for the wisdom shared with us. He will truly be missed.

We offer our sincerest condolences to the Moreland family. Our thoughts and prayers are with you all.

Viewing & Fire Department Memorial Information:
Lee’s Funeral Home
6633 Old Alexander Ferry Rd., Clinton, MD
Wednesday, December 29, 2010 from 5 – 8 p.m.
Fire Department Memorial Service will be held at 7 p.m.

Funeral Information:
Memorial Service will be at:
Lee’s Funeral Home
6633 Old Alexander Ferry Rd., Clinton, MD
Thursday, December 30, 2010 at 11:30 a.m.
Interment will follow at Cedar Hill Cemetery (Suitland, MD)