This coming Sunday, March 25, at 3 p.m., a ceremony dedicating a Walter L. Mess Plaza at the W&OD Trail and N. Oak St. will be held. Dignitaries including U.S. Rep. Jim Moran, Falls Church Mayor Nader Baroukh, Brian Knapp, chair of the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority (NVRPA), and Roger Neighborgall, president of the Friends of the W&OD Trail will be honoring Mess.
Mess is a long time Falls Church resident, businessman, and community activist with a storied past with the OSS during World War II, and as a pioneer founder of the NVRPA. He generated local and legislative support for the existing regional park system. As its second chairman, who served in that capacity for 46 years, Mess conceived and designed the W&OD Trail.
Upon his retirement at the age of 90, the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority named him “Chairman Emeritus” in recognition of his founding role and his long list of accomplishments. In NVRPA’s early years, Mess walked property the new agency considered acquiring. It now preserves more than 10,000 acres and operates 19 regional parks in the region.
Mess received the OSS Distinguished Service Award for his service in World War II, where he and his crew rescued over 200 downed Allied aviators. Commanding his 85 foot long boat that could reach speeds exceeding 60 miph, was only part of his duties as head of the OSS Maritime Operations in the Indian Ocean. Mess received The Purple Heart for wounds received, and many awards for bravery during and after his service in WWII
The public is invited to attend and join in the commemoration of the Walter Mess Plaza on The W&OD Trail, at 400 N. Oak Street, next to the American Legion in the City of Falls Church. Neighborgall, the chief organizer of the event, will make opening remarks and do the dedication for the event.