At a memorial dedication ceremony in Thurmont on Saturday, Andrew Drust read a poem about fellow Marine Cpl. William Kyle Ferrell. Drust later said he wrote it to "memorialize his life, his service and his sacrifice for others."
"... A crying voice, a call for help, he would never miss ...," Drust read.
Drust, who served with Ferrell in the U.S. Marine Corps for about nine months at Camp David, said he started thinking about the poem after seeing people sitting at the site on U.S. 15 where Ferrell was struck and killed by a vehicle in September 2015. He described that place in his poem as "a piece of hallowed ground."
Ferrell, 21, was struck by a hit-and-driver after he pulled over to help a disabled motorist in a heavy rainstorm, an act that Drust and others at the ceremony said reflected Ferrell's giving character.
"He was the kindest, most selfless individual that you would ever hope to meet," Drust said in an interview.
The driver has not been found.
A crowd gathered at Thurmont's Memorial Park for a ceremony with multiple speakers, including local, county and state officials who praised Ferrell's service and focus on helping others. Ferrell's parents, fellow Marines, and others close to him attended, as did members of the American Legion Post 168, AMVETS Post 7 and the VFW Post 6658.
Thurmont Commissioner Martin Burns, who described himself as a former Camp David Marine, said members of the community should look at Ferrell's service and "pay it forward." Ferrell had a widespread impact, Burns said.
"As grieving as this is, remember he made a difference," he said.
The ceremony featured one of two signs that will stand by the bridge that carries the Catoctin Furnace Trail over U.S. 15, about a mile from where Ferrell was hit. That sign, which marks the bridge's dedication to the Marine, will face northbound traffic and join an identical one already facing southbound traffic. A small replica of the signs were made for Ferrell's parents.
Kelly Schulz, Maryland's secretary of labor, licensing and regulation and a former state delegate from Frederick County, presented a citation from Gov. Larry Hogan to Ferrell's parents, as well.
Dan Ferrell, who lives in North Carolina, said he was grateful for the ceremony, which showed how much his son's life touched others. The Marine was "amazing," he said, but to him, he was also simply "my boy — he was just my son."
He said the sign by the bridge on U.S. 15 will help ensure that his son will not be forgotten, he said.
"That was my biggest thing that, give it six months or something, and it'd all be over with and nobody would remember him, but they can remember him now," he said.
Ferrell — who was known by his middle name, Kyle — was a native of Carthage, North Carolina. A close friend, Detective Sgt. Michael Crumpler, of the Moore County Sheriff's Office in North Carolina, said Ferrell wanted to help people as long as Crumpler knew him. Ferrell volunteered with Carthage Fire and Rescue as soon as he could, Crumpler said, and joining the Marines was a clear choice for him.
"I'm sure, looking down, he's smiling from ear to ear with the firetrucks and everything else out here," he said after the ceremony.
Ferrell, who planned to pursue a job in law enforcement, was made an honorary police officer, said Sgt. Steve Martin of the Carthage Police Department.
During the event, Martin shared a story about Ferrell in an address he described as his way of saying goodbye.
On one occasion, Martin repeated after the ceremony, Martin found himself trying to singlehandedly control a man who was drunk and had caused an accident. While a few firefighters stood by without offering a hand, Martin turned around and saw that Ferrell had arrived to help.
"It was just one of them moments — that's the way he did," Martin said after the ceremony. "He seen somebody that needed help and he helped."