LAKE COMO, NJ — Lake Como’s Memorial Day observance had a personal touch as the community came together today to remember one of its own among the fallen — Sgt. Jesse Scavella Jr., who made the ultimate sacrifice 50 years ago.

Gathered at the memorial on the banks of Lake Como on May 28, community members paid tribute to Scavella, who died at age 24 in the line of duty with the Army’s 101st Airborne in the Vietnam War. And his brother, Ron Scavella of nearby Ocean Township, was in attendance for the special recognition, spearheaded by former Lake Como Mayor Michael Ryan.

With Ron Scavella by his side, Ryan shared “Butch” Scavella’s story. Born in 1944 to Jane and Jesse Scavella Sr., he grew up on 11th Avenue in Belmar before the family moved to Brand Parkway in then-South Belmar. He attended Belmar Grammar School and graduated from Manasquan High School, where he played on the varsity football and track teams. He would later join the National Guard and went into active duty with the Army’s 101st Airborne, serving with the 320th Artillery Division.

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During a tour of duty in Vietnam, his combat patrol was engaged in a firefight in which he was killed on March 10, 1968. Scavella was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star and Purple Heart.

Ryan, who served in the Army for two years, leads the Memorial Day effort each year to recognize members of the Lake Como family who have served in the military. And that includes conducting a “roll call,” making sure that every veteran or widow of a veteran in attendance is saluted individually for their service. This year, they each received a red, white and blue ribbon made by Fran Wilton, Mayor Wilton's mother.

One of those veterans — Jesse Evans, who also serves as pastor of Mount Olive Baptist Church in Lake Como — asked everyone to remember those who have given their lives “so that we have the freedom to celebrate Memorial Day.”

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