Ernest Moreland Honored at Founders’ Circle
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Each year, firefighters gather at the Canford-Graves Fire Service Building to honor our fallen and to celebrate members who have laid the foundations for their indvidual companies. This year we remembered Lt. John “Skillet” Ulmschneider and Captain Chris Hill who we lost in the line of duty 2016. Members of the Capitol Heights Volunteer Fire Department were also there to honor Ernest E. Moreland at Founders’ Circle.
A ring of stones representing the volunteer and career organizations of the Prince George’s County Fire/EMS Department to honor deceased members who made significant contributions to their department. This honor is known as Founders’ Circle.
Ernest E. “Ernie” Moreland 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, a position that he held for more than 25 years.
Ernie was mainly a quiet fellow, who took his job as Treasurer very seriously. When you wanted to buy something you need to be prepared. Being able to explain why you needed something and what fund the money would come from was important; while it may have seemed a little much to some, Ernie was teaching us that there is a big 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. It also reminded them to use sound judgment. In 1989, he was named Treasurer Emeritus and Engine 52 was dedicated to Ernie to show our appreciation for his commitment.
As a firefighter Ernie also saw his share of fires. In October 1959, he was on the sense of the most devastating fire in Capitol Heights history at the Stembler and Ford Lumber Company. Operating a hosline 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 the loss of water during the fire 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.
Ernie left his mark not only on the 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. Like many other guard members, Ernie 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 6,00 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 of Frankfort, Allied Forces liberated the camp. This camp was specifically known for its brutal treatment of prisoners. Ernie returned 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.
On December 23, 2010, Ernie died at the age of 92. Ernie served both his country and community with honor; he did not serve for recognition, he served because it was the right thing to do. He was proud of his service to the department and enjoyed the friendships that he had built over the years.
The officers and members of the Capitol Heights Volunteer Fire Department are honor to call Ernie our friend and are grateful for the wisdom that he shared with us. We proudly stood with his grandson Joe today as Ernie’s name was unveiled at the Founders’ Circle.