S&S - Group linked to soldier’s hazing still active
Stars and Stripes
Group linked to soldier’s hazing still active
By Steve Mraz, Stars and Stripes
European edition, Sunday, March 16, 2008
Courtesy of Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge, State of Washington A group photo dated 2005-06 shows member of the Prince Hall Mason Perfect Square Lodge No. 88 in Mannheim, Germany. Spc. Donald Anthony Wilder was a member of the Masonic lodge when he was initiated into the Knights Templar, an affiliated Masonic body. This photo appeared in the Criminal Investigation Command report into Wilder’s death.
MANNHEIM, Germany — More than two years after a hazing initiation in which soldiers were paddled on their buttocks, the Knights Templar Masonic group that was implicated in the incident remains active, a top Knights Templar official said.
However, the Knights Templar, Andrew Morgan Commandery No. 9 of the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Washington and Jurisdiction, did have all its officers removed from their positions as a result of the hazing, said Irvin Siplin, district deputy grand eminent commander of the Knights Templar.
“They are no longer officers in that organization,” Siplin said.
Siplin said officers removed from the Mannheim group include Stephen Guasp, an Army civilian; Sgt. 1st Class Alvin Jarrett; Staff Sgt. Geustravious Rice; and Sgt. Marvin Jamison.
Efforts by Stars and Stripes to reach those individuals by phone and e-mail were unsuccessful except for Rice who gave an e-mail response acknowledging he received an Article 15 for his role in the hazing.
Overall, the Knights Templar is a “concordant” body of the Masons. The group performs community service, walks in parades and other civic duties, according to a Knights Templar video.
On Jan. 7, 2006, three soldiers — one of whom was Spc. Donald Anthony Wilder — were initiated into the Knights Templar group in Mannheim. The soldiers were blindfolded and consented to being paddled on their buttocks during the ceremony. After the ceremony and celebratory drinking at Mannheim bars, Wilder was found dead in a barracks shower. His cause of death was deemed alcohol poisoning.
Despite actions against the group’s officers, it appears the Knights Templar Commandery No. 9 still holds its meetings at Mannheim High School.
“At the moment, I think they do still meet there,” Siplin said.
Mannheim High School officials acknowledged that Masonic groups use the school for meetings but did not have specifics on the names of the groups, said Maggie Menzies, spokeswoman for Department of Defense Dependents Schools-Europe.
If the group still has meetings at the high school, it would be contrary to a Jan. 23 letter Lt. Col. Jeffrey Fletcher, Mannheim garrison commander, wrote to Wilder’s mother, Diane.
“The Masonic chapter your son was involved with has not held any meetings on this installation since my arrival in June 2006,” according to the letter.
The Mannheim garrison provided Stripes with a list of the Masonic groups approved to have meetings on Mannheim installations. The Knights Templar group Wilder joined on Jan. 7, 2006, was not on the list.
The Masons are often compared to fraternities and involve members paying dues, attending meetings and performing community service. Prince Hall Masons are predominantly black but counted Wilder, who was white, as a member. In addition to becoming a Knight Templar, Wilder was a Mason with Mannheim’s Perfect Square Lodge No. 88 of the Prince Hall Masons.
Common Masonic symbols include an interlaced square and compass with a “G” in the middle. Masons will often place symbols in the corners of their vehicles’ rear windshields. The group has long had a shadow of mystery around it, dating to ancient time. A common slogan the Mason use is “2 B 1, ask 1.”