May 29, 2007

Ceremony a salute to Scott’s fallen soldiers


Photos by Joe McIntyre/staff photographer
Maj. Mike McDermott commands the Homer American Legion Post 465 honor guard in a salute to longtime Legion member William Redfield during a Memorial Day ceremony at Scott Cemetery Monday.

Staff Reporter

SCOTT — Small flags waved in the wind on the hillside graves of fallen soldiers at Scott Union Cemetery on Monday, as about 50 people honored the soldiers’ service to America on Memorial Day.
Puffy white clouds tempered the sun, as did the cool breeze.
A large flag flew at half-staff to commemorate not only the soldiers who gave their lives, but also those who are still risking their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan. Mowry was going to have the flag raised after the ceremony, but it remained at half-staff because American soldiers are still dying in Iraq and Afghanistan. According to a CNN report eight American soldiers lost their lives Monday in Iraq.
Leonard Cottrell, a Scott resident who served in the military in Afghanistan, had brought the flag back from Afghanistan last year, he and others said. It had flown with his military unit.
Scott resident Marilyn Mowry organized the 38th Memorial Day service, as she has done in the past. She said her husband, Lewis A. Mowry, a Cub Scout leader at the time, started organizing the ceremonies in 1969 and she would help him. She said the last time he attended was 2000 and at that time he had to sit in a chair. He has since died.
“We had a good turnout. It gets better every year,” Mowry said after the service.
Mowry said she does not do all the preparations herself. She said the task of placing the flags at veterans’ graves falls to Scott resident Andy Fuller.
Dennis Hollenbeck, a member of the Burns-McCauliffe American Legion Post 465, said he has noticed more interest in Memorial Day services in recent years.
He had also participated in the Homer service earlier Monday, which included a tribute to Pfc. Shawn P. Falter, a Homer High School graduate who died last year while serving in Iraq.
“People are showing a lot more interest in what the military is doing,” he said. Hollenbeck said he believes the war in Iraq has sparked people’s interest, especially, in the area, as a result of Falter’s death.
In addition to the ceremonies in Scott and Homer, area Memorial Day remembrances included those in Cincinnatus, Cortland, Dryden, Groton, Marathon, McGraw, Spafford, Taylor and Willet.
“We pray for those who have sacrificed their lives — the military, police, firefighters,” the Rev. Cathy Lee, pastor of the Scott United Methodist Church, said in her invocation in Scott. “We pray that we hold them forever in continual remembrance … and we lift up thankful hearts.”
Retired Air Force Brig. Gen. Philip Tennant, the guest speaker, said he comes to the cemetery just about every Memorial Day because many of his relatives, including his parents, are buried in the Scott cemetery. He said there are a lot of veterans’ graves in the cemetery.
“This is the day we remember the cost of living in freedom,” he said. He said that cost has been “tremendous,” pointing out that the longest period of peace was the 23 years between World War I and World War II.
“This Memorial Day let’s look to the future as well as the past,” Tennant said.
Like Tennant, Shelia Lorows tries to attend the Scott ceremony every year. “It’s like old home days — you never know which relative you might run into,” she said. She said many of her relatives are also buried in the cemetery. She said she grew up in Scott, attending the Glen Haven two-room schoolhouse as a youth.
David Romprey, home from Iraq on leave, also attended the ceremony. He had donned his Army uniform.
Francis Riter, commander of American Legion Post 465, invited Romprey to join the Legionnaires’ rank during the firing of the salute. Five soldiers, including Hollenbeck, fired off a couple of rounds to honor those who had fought and died for their country.
Although the audience was mostly older folks, a few children attended. Zaccuary King, 8, of Scott, knew what Memorial Day was all about. Before the ceremony he said the day was “about the soldiers that have died.”
“When we fight for freedom it means we have the right to disagree,” Lee said in her benediction. “Bless those who stand here and remember and may we never forget what it has cost to stand here and praise you (God),” Lee said.




Homer man leads police on chase

Staff Reporter

CORTLAND — A Homer man racked up numerous felony charges Monday night, allegedly trying to hit several police officers on foot and in their cars as he lead five police agencies on a high-speed chase.
The pursuit, which began in the village of Homer and stretched as far north as Tully and as far south as Virgil, became particularly dangerous at the intersection of Brown and Homer avenues in the city, when cornered driver Eric W. Vandenburg began ramming police cars with his 1995 Ford pickup truck, prompting one city police officer to fire his gun four times at Vandenburg’s truck, according to a news release from the Cortland Police Department.
Police said Vandenburg, 22, of 2330 Route 13, Homer, finally was apprehended after being subdued by officers using pepper spray in woods along East Homer-Baltimore Road at around 11:47 p.m., two hours after an officer first stopped him in the village of Homer for a suspected broken taillight.
Among the charges Vandenburg faces from state and city police are attempted aggravated assault of a police officer, six counts of reckless endangerment, four counts of criminal mischief — all felonies — and a number misdemeanors and violations, including driving while intoxicated.
After being stopped by a Homer police officer on South West Street at 9:51 p.m., Vandenburg sped away as the officer approached his truck, police said.
The officer briefly pursued but lost sight of the truck, which was spotted about 20 minutes later by a Sheriff’s Department officer on Route 13 in Homer, police said.
Officers tried to stop the truck, but Vandenburg fled north on Route 13, as far north as the town of Tully.
Twice during this phase of the pursuit, the truck swerved and headed directly at State Police cars, which moved out of the way, narrowly avoiding collisions, police said.
Vandenburg then headed south again, his route tracked by Onondaga County’s Air-One helicopter. He drove through the towns of Homer and Cortlandville, the city of Cortland and into the town of Virgil, using numerous different highways and back roads, according city police Lt. Paul Sandy.
“He clearly was very familiar with the area,” Sandy said.
Vandenburg then headed back into the city, where he drove the wrong way down Main Street before being boxed in by two city police cars at the intersection of Brown and Homer avenues, police said.
As officers got out of their cars to try to take Vandenburg into custody, he began ramming the police cars in an effort to get away, doing a “significant amount of damage,” Sandy said.
At one point Vandenburg backed directly toward a city officer who was out of his car “in an attempt to run him down,” Sandy said. The officer in the truck’s path fired four rounds from his .40-caliber Glock service weapon at the truck.
The Police Department has not released the names of the officers involved in the incident, Sandy said.
None of the shots hit Vandenburg, who drove away heading north on Homer Avenue (Route 11).
After Vandenburg eluded police in the city, he headed north into Homer, where he wound up leaving the road a number of times and driving through fields and access roads.
In a wooded area off East Homer Crossing Road, Vandenburg abandoned his truck and began driving a second vehicle that had been parked there, police said.
Sandy said the vehicle was not stolen, and likely was owned by Vandenburg.
Vandenburg then drove across a field and a lawn, back on to Route 13 and then to East Homer-Baltimore Road and into a wooded area, where he was eventually taken into custody by State Police.