Congressman Chris Smith, Richard Walker Jr, Ocean Twp Ptlman Steven Walker and Ptlman Chris Stenger
Richard A. Walker, Jr of Neptune City earned a Bronze Star and other medals in Vietnam nearly 45 years ago, but never received them…until yesterday.
Congressman Chris Smith presented Walker with his honors, The Bronze Star, the Army Commendation Medal, the Good Conduct Medal; the National Defense Service Medal; the Vietnam Service Medal & Bronze Star Attachment; the Republic of Vietnam Campaign Ribbon, and; the Sharpshooter Badge & Rifle Bar, yesterday in the congressman’s Freehold office. Walker’s son, Ocean Township Police Officer Steven Walker and his friend Officer Chris Stenger, an ex-Marine and combat veteran of Afghanistan were on hand for the ceremony.
Veteran Don Manrodt of Highlands. Not Sal or Mike.
On this Veterans Day, two men who have made an impression on me are on my mind.
Sal was a WWII Vet. His son Mike was my best friend in the 1970’s. Sal was a blue collar guy who worked two jobs to provide a better life for his sons than he had.
One afternoon, Mike and I were heading upstairs in his house to get something from his room. We had to be quiet Mike warned because his father was sleeping before heading off to his night job. As we quietly walked past Sal’s room, a loud blood curdling scream emerged from the room. I could hear the bed shaking. Then just as suddenly, quiet.
I was startled. Frightened really. Mike was embarrassed. “Is he alright? Should we call the police?” I asked Mike. “Its OK,” Mike said, “he does that all the time. Please don’t tell anyone,” as if it was something to be ashamed of.
It had been 30 years since Sal returned from war. He hadn’t, perhaps, had a good nights sleep in those thirty years. PTSD was not a thing yet. But Sal’s suffering was real. He sucked it up and went to work twice a day to provide for his family.
A new program by the Middletown Veterans Affairs Committee will add deeper meaning and clarity to the remembrances of the brave men and women who gave their lives for our freedom.
For years, many communities, including Middletown, have named streets after fallen heroes. Now in Middletown there will be a commemorative sign under the official street signs that identifies the hero, their branch of service and the conflict in which they were sacrificed.
Wednesday afternoon in Port Monmouth, Congressman Chris Smith joined Mayor Stephanie Murray and Committeeman Tony Fiore joined Veterans Affairs Committee Members James Guerrieri, and Tom Garretson and William Bouw in honoring the life and heroism of Army Sgt Richard Belicose who died as the result of injuries sustained in Vietnam in May of 1967. Sgt Belicose’s brothers Ron and Robert were on hand for the ceremony.
Once a day an active member of the military commits suicide. Before today is over 22 more Veterans: men and women, who have survived long deployments and possible combat, will die by suicide.
Like with every column I write, I try my best to understand the subject that I am writing about. I research, I read, I ponder the evidence and I draw conclusions. I’ve never found something so challenging as writing about Veterans and the mental health issues that they face.
It’s not that there isn’t enough information on the topic that makes writing about Veterans challenging, it is relating to a group of people whose experiences, thoughts and emotions can only be understood by those who have been to war. No movie, no book, no first hand account can make a deep enough of an impression upon the uninitiated so as to make us understand their thoughts, their struggles and the ongoing battle that is peacetime living.
For many Veterans peace is harder than the chaos of war. In a war you move from mission to mission from task to task –your training and instincts take over. Long after the buzz and the noise of war are gone, there is a lingering and lonely silence. Silence does not leave clues as to which direction a soldier should take or what comes next after the noise has died down.
For peacetime a soldier receives no training. War wipes away all those so-called normal instincts their old self once had. Upon returning home a hero’s life can become completely unmanageable.
A commemoration of the 70th anniversary of D-Day, June 6, 1944. The program will include: 10AM – Displays and exhibits provided by the 102nd Armored Cavalry Association, Info-Age Science Learning Center, and military memorabilia collector John Egger. 10:30 AM – Entrance of official party, followed by the presentation of Colors by the Marine Academy of Science & Technology and the NJROTC Color Guard; Masters of Ceremonies Co-Directors of the Center for World War II Studies and Conflict Resolution Dr. David Bassano and Dr. Ashley Zampogna-Krug. 10:45 AM – Pledge of Allegiance, with the Hon. John Curley, Monmouth County Freeholder, followed by the national anthem performed by “Down Melody Lane.” 10:50 AM – Invocation, with the Rev. Milton Holmes, WWII veteran. 11 AM – Welcome, with NJ Assemblywoman Amy Handlin, 13th Legislative District, Monmouth County, followed by opening remarks from Dr. Maureen Murphy, President, Brookdale Community College. 11:10 AM – Guest speaker: Brig. Gen. Michael L. Cunniff, Adjutant General, NJ Dept. of Military and Veterans Affairs. 11:30 AM – Introduction of honorees and WW II veterans of the Normandy campaign, with Assemblywoman Handlin and President Murphy. 11:50 AM- Closing remarks, with Paul Zigo, Associate Professor of History, Founder and Former Director of the Center for World War II Studies and Conflict Resolution. 11:55 AM – “God Bless America” performed by “Down Melody Lane.” 12 PM – Reception sponsored by the Estate of Arthur E. Jurman, distinguished veteran of the European Theater. Co-sponsored by NJ Assemblywoman Amy Handlin and the Center for World War II Studies and Conflict Resolution Location: 765 Newman Springs Road, Lincroft
Memorial Day is a US federal holiday wherein the
men and women who died while serving in the
United States Armed Forces are remembered.
The holiday, which is celebrated every year on the
final Monday of May,was formerly known as Decoration Day
and originated after the American Civil War to commemorate the Union
and Confederate soldiers who died in the Civil War.
By the 20th century, Memorial Day had been extended to
honor all Americans who have died while in the military service
In case you missed it here are some
MEMORIAL DAY SERVICES, PARADES & MORE
Monday, May 26
A memorial ceremony will take place at Elks Point, followed
with a parade down Main Street.
The parade will be preceded by a Flag Draped coffin.
This is the largest and oldest Memorial Day Parade in the area.
Routes 79 and 537, Freehold
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Legislation sponsored by Sen. Jennifer Beck that would make veterans living in retirement and long-term care communities eligible for a state veterans property tax deduction and a tax exemption intended for disabled veterans cleared its Senate committee…
….from your holiday weekend, be sure to check out the video biography of Congressional Medal of Honor recipient Cpl Bud Thorne.
The video, An American Hero, was first produced for the 50th anniversary of the Thorne Middle School in Middletown. It was shown again last Thursday as part of the Battle of the Bulge Survivors Reunion and Monument Rededication which took place at the school.
For me, and I hope the many others who have never experienced war first hand nor lost a loved one to battle, viewing the video deepened my gratitude for all veterans as well as for the men and women who are currently serving in the military.
Thank you to Edith Nowels, Thorne’s sister, for providing the video for MMM readers.
Nowels is a hero too.
She has done a tremendous job reuniting WWII vets and making sure we have an opportunity to express our gratitude before they pass. But Edith never stops to take a breath, even after such a successful event like the reunion on Thursday. When I reached her over the weekend while I was writing the story on the reunion, Edith was on the road delivering Thank You cards to veterans in nursing homes and at VFW posts.