Long¬time military educators Will and Steph¬anie Poe are set to be honored this Me¬morial Day by members of the Harpers Ferry-Bolivar Veterans Association.
Both master sergeants, the Poes ini¬tiated the Air Force Junior ROTC pro¬gram at Jefferson High School and have worn the Air Force uniform for a com¬bined 66 years – first serving their coun¬try on active duty for 20 years and then as Air Force Junior ROTC teachers.
The Harpers Ferry couple is retiring this year.
A Memorial Day parade will start on West Washington Street at 9 a.m. Mon¬day and end at the Harpers Ferry Boli¬var Veterans Memorial on the grounds of Harpers Ferry Middle School.
Doug Craze, commander of the Harp¬ers Ferry/Bolivar District Veterans Asso¬ciation, said the Poes have come to every Memorial Day parade and every Veter¬ans Day parade for a decade.
“They are very supportive and very profession¬al,” Craze said.
Cadet Col. Gabrielle Lovell, 17, of Shep¬herdstown, will be the event’s guest speaker. Lovell is in her third year in the Air Force Ju¬nior ROTC program and hopes to go on to West Point. She commands 250 cadets.
“I consider the Poes mentors,” she said. “They have always been there for me.” Stephanie Poe was a member of the dental corps for her entire career. Her first two assignments took her to Maxwell Air Force Base in Alabama and Vance Air Force Base in Oklahoma.
In 1985, an assignment took her to Hahn Air Base Germany, where she became the noncom¬missioned officer in charge of enlisted dental training.
Will Poe started as a security policeman at a small radar station across the street from the beach in Fort Fisher, N.C.
From 1982 to 1985 he was assigned to Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada after being selected for a classified assignment.
The Poes, both 56, met in Germany in 1986. They went on their first date on July 4. They married in 1989 and have four children. Will and Stephanie were in Germany when the Ber¬lin Wall fell. They were in Europe when Po¬land gained its independence from the Soviet Union.
Will Poe initiated the Air Force Junior ROTC program at Jefferson in 2002 and his wife be¬gan working alongside him in 2000.
“This is a great way to help future genera¬tions,” she said. “ROTC is building better citi¬zens for America. It develops their character,” said Stephanie.
Her husband agrees. “It gives them a leg up on life. They develop as leaders.”
Stephanie Poe’s plans involve devoting time to her children and grandchildren. Her husband is looking forward to hiking the entire, 2,000-plus mile Appalachian Trail from April to Oc¬tober next year.
“That’s on my bucket list,” he said.