By Tom Faulkner (RDECOM)July 14, 2010
ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. - Installation leadership took an afternoon expedition to a historic landmark here July 13, the lighthouse on Poole's Island on the Chesapeake Bay.
Maj. Gen. Nick Justice, commander of the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command and Installation Commander, was joined by Garrison Commander Col. Orlando Ortiz, Command Sgt. Maj. Hector Marin, Installation Senior Enlisted Advisor, and RDECOM Historian Jeffrey Smart for the short boat ride to the lighthouse. Installation Management Command representative Terri Kaltenbacher also came along.
They were taken to the island by APG police watercraft, escorted by Natural Resource Officers.
The island covers about 280 acres and is located near the mouth of the Gunpowder and Bush Rivers.
Poole's Island Lighthouse is the fourth oldest lighthouse on the Chesapeake. After being authorized by Congress in 1824, it was constructed in 1825 on six acres of land purchased for $500. The lighthouse is 40 feet tall and 18 feet in diameter at its base.
In 1917, as the United States entered World War I , the Army condemned Poole's Island and made it part of Aberdeen Proving Ground.
The visit was Justice's first to the island and was long anticipated.
"Every effort must be made to maintain this historical and significant National Historic Monument," he said.
The group also visited the adjoining graves of Capt. Elijah Williams, age 24, and his brother Capt. James Williams, age 26. The brothers were residents of Poole's Island who lost their lives during a snowstorm in February 1855.
The visitors were particularly taken with the words on the Williams brothers' tombstone:
"No friendly hand did close their eyes,
They saw no tear, they heard no sighes;
But in the waves they lost their breath,
And they endured a watry death."