BAYONNE, NJ - Like communities across the nation Bayonne paused on Monday to honor its veterans.
With the front lawn of Bayonne High School decorated with a field of American flags, residents, school officials, veterans, students, and elected officials gathered for the fifth annual Field of Heroes event, this year paying tribute to four veterans who distinguished themselves while in the service of their country and after their discharge.
Performances by the Bayonne High School Marching Band were highlighted by a military song medley that had veterans standing on their feet.
The event included a presentation of awards to the veterans, or their survivors, as well as a flag raising at the front of the high school.
“This is a day dedicated to those who made sacrifices for their country,” said Principal Richard Baccarella.
Honored this year were Jon Christopher Jacobson, Neil J. Carroll, Sr., Barry David Jones, and Theodore Garelick.
As a lieutenant in the United States Army, Jacobson was deployed to Vietnam in 1970 where he was part of an effort to help South Vietnamese reclaim land from the Vietcong. He was killed during combat.
Carroll served twice in the U.S. Navy, first during World War II, and later during the Korean conflict. He continued his service to the community after his return, as the chief of staff to four congressmen, chair of the Governor’s Council on Physical Fitness, then later as a freeholder representing the City of Bayonne.
Jones also served during the Vietnam era as a military policeman. He later became a prominent figure in veterans affairs, as a member of the Flournoiy Gethers VFW Post No. 7470 where he remained for more than 40 years and held a number of leadership positions that included adjunct, quartermaster, trustee and commander. He is also a member of the governing body of VFW for Hudson County and the commander of the Bayonne Memorial Day Committee.
While serving in the U.S. Army, Garelick was a technician on the NIKE Hercules missile air defense system. He was honored as Soldier of the Year in 1965 for the Pittsburg U.S. Army Defense.
In presenting the honor for his grandfather, Councilman Neil Carroll III came near tears several times.
“Yes, when it comes to my grandfather it is a mixture of tears and humor, and he would have loved it that way,” Carroll said.
The event, held in conjunction with the Joyce-Herbert VFW Post No. 226, also featured a short documentary produced by students about the Post’s military museum. Funds raised through donations also went to support the efforts of the museum.
“This post is not only responsible for the museum, but for the wall on honor in City Hall,” said Dennis Degnan, assistant superintendent of schools. “These men and women should be honored year-round.”
Degnan went on to praise the efforts of Post No. 226 for doing just that.
Council President Sharon Ashe-Nadrowski, speaking on behalf of Mayor Jimmy Davis, also said veterans should be honored year round.
Rep. Donald Payne Jr. said that while he never served in the military, he understood that veterans like these are the people who help make America great.
“They stood up to make a difference,” he said
An unexpected emotional moment came during the keynote speech by U.S Army Major Bryan D. Jones, who spoke about his admiration for the American foot soldier and the critical role they played in the military. At one point, he spoke about a close companion with whom he had served who later lost his life in Afghanistan.
“I’ve been in the military 18 years and this has never been about me. This is about the mission and the soldier,” he said. “The American foot soldier is someone I love.”
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