NEWARK, NJ – Congresswoman-Elect Mikie Sherrill, a Navy veteran, made her first public appearance since winning the election in New Jersey’s 11th District at the ninth annual Essex County Veterans Day Observance on Wednesday at Essex County Veterans Memorial Park in Newark. During the ceremony, U.S. Navy and Naval Reserve Veteran William Squires was presented with an Essex County Community Star Award.

Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo, Jr. hosted the event, which was also attended by many Essex County employees who are veterans of the seven branches of the military represented in the Essex County Armed Forces monument.

“Throughout our country’s history, brave men and women have put their lives on hold to serve in the U.S. Armed Forces at home and abroad,” said DiVincenzo. “Our Essex County Veterans Memorial Park was created to provide our veterans with a place to find serenity and comfort and provide a constant reminder to the public about their contributions and sacrifices. We are proud to stand with our veterans at this important occasion, give them our respect and thank them for representing our country with valor and bravery.”

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According to DiVincenzo, Squires dedicated more than 35 years of his life in the Navy and Naval Reserves, and continues his involvement in retirement by representing the Navy as a Blue and Gold Officer and with the Academy’s Alumni Association. He said that the county is proud to honor Squires “for his long-time service to his country.”

“I am proud to have served my country in the Navy,” said Squires. “This award is not about me; it’s about all veterans.

“It’s hard to be separated from your family, but we do that willingly because we are dedicated to serve our country. Every night, I pray for the lives of the men and woman who served in the armed forces willingly, loyally and faithfully.”

Sherrill said that Squires represents the best of what the country expects from its veterans.

“He flew thousands of hours, travelled around the globe and then continued to serve after he left active duty,” she said. “He just continues to serve his country and community anyway he can.”

Squires graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1975 and served on active duty as a naval aviator for 12 years. During that time, he accumulated more than 4,000 hours of flying the P-3 Orion and made multiple deployments around the world.

During his Naval career, Squires received the “Wings of Gold” in 1976, served as a member of the VP 26 Special Operations Unit, was an Instructor Pilot and Tactical Training Team Leader, and Communications Officer on the USS John F. Kennedy, which was his last assignment. Mr. Squires continued his service by joining the Naval Reserves, where he served for 24 years before retiring with the rank of Commander in 2003.

Since 1991, Squires has participated in the U.S. Naval Academy Admissions Office Blue and Gold Program, serving as an ambassador for the Navy educating students and their parents about the merits of attending the Naval Academy and assisting candidates during the application process.

He has held several leadership positions with the Blue and Gold program, most recently serving as chairman of the Area Coordinator Steering Committee, which oversees the more than 2,200 Blue and Gold Officers and acts as a liaison between the program and the Naval Academy Admissions Office. Squires has also been a member of the Naval Academy Alumni Association Board of Trustees since 2017.

Following his service in the Navy, Squires entered the sports and entertainment facility management business and has held top-level positions at Yankee Stadium, Giants Stadium, Cleveland Browns Stadium (currently known as First Energy Stadium) and Disney’s Wide World of Sports (currently known as ESPN Wide World of Sports). He has been involved in the design, construction and operation of ESPN Wide World of Sports, First Energy Stadium and MetLife Stadium.

Squires currently runs his own consulting business with the New York Giants among his clients. He is a member of the Sports League Sports Council, which works with the Department of Homeland Security on security and issues as sports and entertainment venues, and an adjunct professor at Columbia University where he teaches a course in sports facility and event management.

He and his wife, Jodi, who have three children and one grandchild, are among the top fundraisers in the country for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.

During the ceremony, Essex County Health Officer Michael Festa, who has a member of the American Legion Post 185 in Caldwell for 25 years where he serves as Chaplain, gave the invocation.

Ta-Leafa Schenck, Kamiko Mathius, Kelice Moore and Kara Miller, seniors at Essex County Donald Payne, Sr. School of Technology, sang the National Anthem.

Jack McGarry, retired officer with the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office, performed the “Armed Forces Medley.” 

The Essex County Sheriff’s Honor Guard presented the colors at the beginning of the ceremony.

Essex County Veterans Memorial Park became the first new Essex County park developed in Newark in 80 years when it opened in September 2009. It includes a circular water fountain surrounded by 10 flagpoles and a short granite wall.

The flags of the seven branches of the military—Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Army National Guard and Air Force National Guard—fly from 25-foot poles, while the New Jersey State flag and Essex County flag fly from 30-foot poles and the American flag flies from a 35-foot pole at the center of the display. At the base of each flag pole on the granite wall is the official agency or government seal.

Pictured above, courtesy of Essex County, DiVincenzo shares a light moment with Squires and Sherrill at the ninth annual Essex County Veterans Day Observance.