Veterans Park in Raritan to Honor WWII Hero John Basilone

Somerset County Freeholder Director Patricia Walsh, center,stands with Raritan Mayor Chuck McMullin, left, Basilone Parade chairman John Pacifico and Sheriff Frank Provenzano at the Basilone Memorial Credits: Rod Hirsch

RARITAN, NJ – Somerset County will create a park on Somerset Street adjacent to the John Basilone Memorial to honor the WWII Medal of Honor recipient and all United States veterans.

Freeholder Director Patricia Walsh made the announcement Friday at the site. She was joined by state, county and local officials and several veterans groups, including the Bradley Gardens American Legions Post and the Canal Walk Veteans Club of Franklin.

“I am happy to announce that the Somerset County Board of Chosen Freeholders, the Borough of Raritan, the county Engineering Division and the county Park Commission have been working together to enhance the area adjacent to the John Basilone Memorial,” Walsh said, noting that the county had renamed the nearby Lyman Street Bridge in memory of Basilone in 2005.

Sign Up for E-News

“It will be our pleasure once again to honor Gunnery Sergeant ‘Manila John’ Basilone, the only enlisted Marine during World War II to receive the Navy Cross and the Medal of Honor,” she said.  “This native son of Raritan died in February 1945 during the Battle of Iwo Jima."

“In recent years the county has purchased additional land behind the Basilone statue," she added. "Our original plan was to create a landscaped plaza with seating and parking so that visitors and residents could safely visit the monument, gather to reflect on all of those who gave the ultimate sacrifice, and learn the heroic story of John Basilone. All parties will work together to finalize a design that honors the rich history of this great area,” she said. “Veterans Park will be a place that residents will be proud of and serve as a reminder to our Somerset County veterans that they will never be forgotten.”

Also present were state Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli, R-16th, a former borough resident and Somerset County freeholder; Sheriff Frank Provenzano, Raritan Mayor Chuck McMullin, and members of the Raritan Historic Committee.

Basilone, a Raritan resident and United States Marine Corps Gunnery Sergeant was 29 when he was killed on the beach at Iwo Jima Feb. 19, 1945. He had already been accorded the nation's highest military award for valor, the Medal of Honor, for heroism during the Battle of Guadalcanal in World War II. He was awarded the Navy Cross posthumously.

He was the only enlisted Marine to receive both the Medal of Honor and the Navy Cross in WWII.

He enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1940 and was deployed to Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, and then to Guadalcanal where he held off 3,000 Japanese troops after his 15-member unit was reduced to two other men.

Basilone has received other awards and honors. The US Postal Service has honored Basilone on a stamp; a stretch of Interstate 5 that passes through Camp Pendleton Marine base in California is called Gunnery Sergeant John Basilone Memorial Highway; Basilone’s life was also portrayed in an HBO movie.

A United States Naval destroyer commissioned in 1949 was named the USS John Basilone; it was decommissioned in 1977.

A second naval ship, DDG-122, a guided missile destroyer, was recently named in his honor.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News


New Jersey Association of School Librarians Urges BRRSD to Keep All Librarians

April 18, 2018

To the Editor:

The following letter was sent to the Bridgewater-Raritan school superintendent as well as members of the school board from the New Jersey Association of School Librarians (NJASL).  

As the statewide organization for school library media specialists, the organization advocates for strong school library programs for all students.  NJASL is disheartened to learn that a ...

Car Fire in Wendy's Parking Lot Deemed Not Suspicious, Bridgewater Police Say

April 20, 2018

BRIDGEWATER, NJ - Bridgewater Township Police responded to a car fire in the parking lot of Wendy's, on Route 22 East April 9, but the fire was not deemed suspicious, according to a report.

According to the report, an unoccupied 2003 Infinity G35 caught fire. A 2010 Honda CRV, which was parked next to it, was also damaged in the fire.

North Branch and Green Knoll fire both ...

BAM Desserts Visits SCVTHS Culinary Arts Program

April 22, 2018

BRIDGEWATER, NJ – Melissa Jenkins, one of the owners of BAM Desserts in Somerset, and Chef Liz Hernandez visited the Somerset County Vocational & Technical High School (SCVTHS) culinary arts classes this week in hopes to recruit students for the growing bakery. 

Jenkins and Hernandez were looking for reliable students who were willing to learn new skills, get workplace ...

Whitehouse Wind Symphony Presents Free Concert in Somerville

April 22, 2018

SOMERVILLE, NJ - The Whitehouse Wind Symphony, a community band under the direction of Branchburg resident James P. Sheeley, Jr., will present a free concert on Sunday, April 29th at 3 p.m. at St. John’s Episcopal Church, 158 West High St.

The concert will feature a wide range of selections from wind band literature both new and old, such as the overture to “Die Frau ...

'The Sting' shimmers and shakes at Paper Mill

‘The Sting ‘slithers and shakes at Paper Mill Playhouse


MILLBURN, NJ – In a premiere production of “The Sting,” Harry Connick Jr. commands the Paper Mill Playhouse stage in Millburn.

Based on the sensational Paul Newman/Robert Redford film in 1973, the 1930s plot centers on a con game and gambling, sometimes on a train between New York and ...

Bateman Bill to Require Training, Licensing for Pet Groomers

April 15, 2018

TRENTON, NJ - Sen. Christopher "Kip" Bateman (R-16) will introduce legislation to increase protections for family pets by requiring pet groomers to be properly trained and licensed following the deaths of three dogs in five months at different New Jersey pet salons.

“It is sadly far too common for us to read of dog grooming deaths in the news,” said Bateman.