Campers may continue to confront Maryland national guardsmen in the woods at Tuckahoe State Park on the Eastern Shore despite a much-publicized "ambush" of two canoeists by weekend soldiers there July 12.
Martha and Joe Pate of Hobbs, a small town near Denton, have said they were paddling down a creek in the park when about 20 guardsmen started firing at them with M16 rifles. The rifles contianed blanks, but the Pates were petrified.
"It really was a tempest in a teapot," Gen. Benjamin F. Dean yesterday. "We had a squad of 12 people there. It was no big deal. I think it's solved now." The park in Talbot County adjoins the unit's armory -- "It's sort of like intheir back yard," the general said.
The Guard uses the park four or five times a year, according to James E. Mallow, state campground director, who characterized the mosquito-infested area as "not the most popular place in the world." The guardsmen, he said, "have helped us tear down buildings and build roads. It has been a mutually beneficial program. It was an unfortunate set of circumstances, but we don't envision throwing the National Guard out."
"I was hoping they could find somewhere else to do their thing," said Martha Pate, a storekeeper. "Listen," she said turning to more pressing matters, "Will you excuse me? I have to make a sandwich."