The Lives Behind the Banners

Thomas Andrew Gummo was born in Monument on Nov. 2, 1925. His parents were Charles Edward Gummo and Edna Grace Sankey Gummo. He was the seventh child of 11.

The Gummo family has a military history reaching back to John Edward Gummo who fought in the Civil War in Co. A of the 45th Regiment of the Pennsylvania Infantry. John was wounded and returned to service and then was captured at Poplar Grove, Va. and held as a prisoner of war. At the end of the Civil War, he was released and returned home to his family. His son, Jesse Gummo fought in World War I. Thomas and his brother, John both enlisted and served in the Navy during World War II. His younger brothers, Paul and Bruce also served in the Navy after the war. Thomas’ son, Thomas Lee Gummo followed the family military tradition and served 20 years in the Air Force as a fighter pilot and is a veteran of the first Gulf War.

Tom was raised in Monument and attended school at Monument Elementary School. Tom’s sister Mary Gummo Shope was his teacher when he was in seventh and eighth grade. His upbringing was fairly normal for the time and place. He hunted and fished and roamed the woods as a kid. He worked on several farms during the summer vacations from school.

Tom quit high school to join the Navy on Nov. 2, 1942 on his 17th birthday. The paperwork was completed and reflects an enlistment date of Nov. 11, 1942, Veteran’s Day. He completed his boot camp training in Camp Green Bay, Ill. After aerial gunner training, he was assigned to VT-13, a Torpedo Bomber squadron flying the TBF Avenger, and went aboard the USS Franklin.

The USS Franklin, nicknamed “Big Ben,” was one of 24 Essex-class aircraft carriers built during World War II for the U.S. Navy, and the fifth U.S. Navy ship to bear the name. Commissioned in January 1944, she served in several campaigns in the Pacific theater of operations, earning four battle stars. She was badly damaged by a Japanese air attack in March 1945, with the loss of over 700 of her crew, becoming the most heavily damaged U.S. carrier to survive the war. (Movie footage of the actual attack was included in the 1949 film Task Force starring Gary Cooper.)

Tom was assigned to the USS Franklin in the spring of 1944. His first flight off the carrier was March 28, 1944. His first combat flight was July 4, 1944 at Iwo Jima.

As a trail gunner, Tom flew approximately 37 missions and 45 carrier landings, which are recorded in his log book. He flew numerous sub patrols in combat areas which he didn’t log in his log book.

On Oct. 17, 1944, the plane Tom was in ran out of gas and landed in the ocean approximately 50 miles off the Philippines. Tom was rescued by a destroyer, the USS Wilkes, after about eight hours in a life raft. He was returned to the Franklin that night and the following morning took off and flew a five-hour mission over Manila Bay.

His last mission was Oct. 25, 1944. Several days later, the USS Franklin was hit by two Japanese kamikazes and the ship returned to Bremerton, Wash. for repairs. Tom was then sent to the Navy modification unit at Johnsville and he later was sent for temporary duty at Port Magu, Calif. working on the first ram jet missiles.

While stationed at Johnsville, Tom married Barbara Ellen Mayes on April 19, 1945. He was honorably discharged on Nov. 4, 1945.

After his discharge, he worked at Piper Aircraft Co. and left there to go to the Pittsburg Institute of Aeronautics and got his A&E in 1947. His missed his graduation ceremony because he went home to be with Barbara, when she gave birth to their first child, Thomas Lee Gummo, on Nov. 14, 1947, in Lock Haven.

The economy wasn’t good, and after graduation he couldn’t find a job that would support his family, so he reenlisted in the Navy on Dec. 31, 1947.

After a three-month tour in Newfoundland, he was assigned to VP-23 and stationed at Miami, Fla. to fly in the hurricane hunters.

On March 1, 1950, Barb gave birth to their second child, Joy Ann Gummo, in Lock Haven. In October of that year, Tom was transferred to VX1 in Key West, Fla. as a helicopter technician. Allan Clair Gummo, their third child was born Feb. 20, 1952 in Key West, Fla.

Tom served until Nov. 30, 1953 and received his second honorable discharge. Tom, Barb and their three children returned to central Pennsylvania. Again employment in the rural area was scarce and on Feb. 18, 1954, Tom enlisted-this time in the Air Force. After numerous assignments in the US Air Defense Command, as a helicopter technician, he was finally stationed at Norton Air Force Base in San Bernadino, Calif.

He was then assigned to Rheinmain, Germany in June 29, 1955, and eventually transferred to Spangdahlem, Germany.

After his three-year tour in Germany, he was then stationed at Edwards Air Force Base in the Mojave Desert, Calif. From June 1958 to December 1961, he was stationed at Davis Monthan Air Force Base near Tuscon, Ariz. with the 17th Air Rescue Squadron. This assignment was followed by a tour of duty in Goosebay, Labrador.

Tom’s final station was Stead Air Force base near Reno, Nevada as a flight chief. He finally retired for good as a master sergeant on March 31, 1965. For his years of service, he was awarded the Air Medal, Good Conduct Medals from both Navy and Air Force, American Defense Service Medal, American Campaign Medal, World War II Victory Medal, National Defense Service Medal and Armed Forces Service Medal. He also earned the following ribbons: Combat Action, Navy E, Naval Reserve Sea Service, Short Tour Air Force Overseas, Long Tour Air Force Overseas, Air Force Longevity Service, Air Force NCO Academy, Air Force Small Arms Expert-Marksmanship, and Philippines Liberation Ribbon.

After his retirement, the family moved to Mill Hall and resided there for about two years. When Tom was laid off from his job at Piper Aircraft and was unable to find a job locally, an old Air Force friend, Wilmer Hillis said he could get Tom a job in Long Beach, Calif. working for Douglas Aircraft. The family moved to Lakewood, Calif. and Tom was employed as a quality control inspector at Douglas.

Over the next few years, Tom worked on the Saturn V, while still at McDonald Douglas and eventually went to work for BF Goodrich. His final job in California was at Long Beach City College.

In 1980, Tom again retired and he and Barb moved to Parowan, Utah. In Parowan, he entered into a partnership with his friend, Wilmer Hillis and owned a laundromat. They eventually bought and ran an appliance store.

Tom enjoyed much of his retirement engaged in activities such as working in his garden, woodworking in his garage, working in the Parowan service club on various community service projects, working on cars and raising beef for his family. He learned to do cross stitch and has a reputation for impeccable work.

Tom and Barb are the proud parents of three children, Tom, Joy and Allan, four grandchildren, Shirley, Tina, Carin and Brittany, and three great-grandchildren, Patricia, Ethan and Laurel Lennon.

The Lives Behind the Banners

“Some people referred to him as Mr. Woodward Township,” Mike Fetzer of the Dunnstown Fire Co. said about his former chief Charles Rine. “There were three things he cared about: his family, this fire company and Woodward Township.”

Charles Calvin Rine Jr., called Chuck, was born on Oct. 11, 1950 to Charles and Ruby J. Rine of Mill Hall. He attended school at Mill Hall and graduated from Bald Eagle-Nittany High School. During his time in school, he wrestled and also worked at the Clinton Country Club, where he helped his uncle do grounds-keeping.

After graduating in 1969, Rine started college. According to his wife, Barb, he didn’t finish his first semester. Instead, he went to work.

“He worked for Dean Phillips,” daughter Jennifer Hoy said. “It was where Addie’s is now. They sold auto parts and bicycles, almost a general store.

“They were a hometown version of Kmart or Wal-Mart,” Barb added.

Rine worked there a short time, then took a job with American Auto, located where Lowe’s now stands. During that time, the family moved to Sunbury, but Chuck continued working in Mill Hall.

1972 turned out to be a very important year for him. He married Barb that April. Two months later, Hurricane Agnes struck the East Coast. The severe flooding in the area heavily damaged American Auto and it was forced to close its doors. At the same time, Rine joined the Dunnstown Fire Department to help out with the flood. That decision forever after affected his life.

“He went to work for another American Auto store in Milton,” Barb said. “He was there for about a year, then we moved back to Mill Hall and he started working for Sam Hoy Construction.”

After working with Sam Hoy, Rine went to work for Turner Motors and finally McEntire’s. He worked as a parts and service manager. He would later apply his knowledge of motors and auto mechanics to the fire department.

In addition to other jobs, Rine also served as township supervisor. He held this position for more than 30 years, and it earned him the previously mentioned informal title of “Mr. Woodward Township.”

Throughout all the time he worked at various jobs, he was a firefighter. He stayed with the department until he passed away, on April 6, 2011. He spent most of those years as fire chief.

“He was at the fire company for 30-some years,” Fetzer said. “He was chief for about 28. There were only five years in and out he wasn’t fire chief.”

In 1975, Rine trained to be an EMT. In October 1977, Dunnstown Fire Co. started the Clinton County EMS, which took care of the area of Dunnstown, Lamar, Flemington, Lock Haven and Beech Creek.

“He was instrumental in getting some of that together,” Barb said.

According to Fetzer and Justin Baker, another member of the fire department, Rine played an integral role in expanding both the company and the fire hall.

“When I first started, there were just two bays at the hall,” Fetzer explained. “We parked three pieces of apparatus where we have bingo now. Since he started here, we built a whole second addition and brought in three new pieces of fire apparatus. That was with all the other guys too, but he was the mastermind behind it. He knew what motors and rear ends we wanted. He was the type of guy that when he had something in his mind, there was no changing it.”

Fetzer went on to explain Rine’s work to get them a new engine in 1995. Rather than accepting the prices given to him, Rine called around and priced individual pieces of equipment. The engine was made to his specifications.

Both his family and his fellow firefighters had stories to offer about Rine’s experiences with the department.

“We lived on Mill Hill,” Barb said, discussing one of these stories. “When we moved in there, he thought that since it was such a short distance, he wouldn’t have to drive. So his first call, he put on his gear and tried to run to the fire hall. But the guys had to pick him up. That was the last time he decided to run.”

Jen also has a story, a rare time when her father didn’t hear the call.

“When Smith Furniture burned down, I heard the call on the scanner. He didn’t,” Jen said. “I went into his room and asked ‘Aren’t you getting up?’ Then he was up and out the door, running.”

Fetzer and Baker, with their experiences at fire scenes, saw a different side of Rine.

“There are enough stories about Chuck to fill a book,” Fetzer said. “The easiest way I can explain him, you either loved him or you hated him.”

Baker added that Rine was not afraid to take charge, sometimes of more than he was authorized to.

“Sometimes we would go to fires and he would be giving orders to people outside the department,” Baker recalled.

“Chuck had a whistle that no one is ever going to be able to copy,” Fetzer said. “When he whistled, you stopped dead and looked for him. When you made eye contact, he was barking orders. A lot of the guys here knew it. There were tons of times in Renovo he’d do that whistle, and all of ‘his troops’ would come, and he’d say, ‘There’s two things we can do. We can put the fire out and go home, or be here all night. I don’t want to be here all night.'”

“He used to give us time frames when we went to structure fires,” Baker said. “He’d give us five or 10 minutes to put it out, then he was coming in after us. And you didn’t want him after you.”

“I swear he slept here. When the tones sounded, he was there,” Fetzer said. “Some of us lived pretty close, but he’d be here and have the piece out and ready to go.”

When Rine wasn’t working or at the fire hall, he enjoyed hunting and trips to Ocean City. He was also a well-regarded cook. The members of his fire company recall his passion for cooking, both at home and at the fire hall.

“He loved to cook,” Fetzer said. “He had a mini-industrial kitchen in his house. He’d get done working early on Friday then come over to the fire hall. When we got there, he’d already have food going.”

On Aug. 7, 2007, Rine was named a lifetime member of the Dunnstown Fire Co.

“He was a Dunnstown Fire Co. member until the day he died,” Barb said. “They did a last ride for him on the fire truck. That was his request for them.”

Charles Rine is remembered by different people for a great number of things. Husband, father, fire chief, cook, mechanic and township supervisor are just the tip of the iceberg. He may have made some enemies over the years, but he got the job done and made a lot more friends. What is certain, is that Woodward Township and the Dunnstown Fire Co. would not be what they are today without Charles Rine.