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Neighbor Pushes NJ Town: Waive Rules to Honor Slain Vietnam Soldier

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James Ohlinger of Succasunna Credits: Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund
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ROXBURY, NJ – A Succasunna man wants the township to bend its rules a little and erect a “street blade” sign honoring Jimmy Ohlinger, a township resident who was killed in the Vietnam War.

The man, Patrick White of Thor Drive, made his case at Tuesday’s meeting of the Roxbury Mayor and Council. He asked the council to consider installing the sign in honor of Jimmy Ohlinger, a young man who lived on Thor Drive before being killed Nov. 19, 1966. Street blades are small signs erected below street signs to honor special people.

White, who has lived on Thor Drive since 1964, acknowledges that Ohlinger doesn’t meet the criteria for a street blade – being a Roxbury native or living in the township for 20 years – but he asserted the soldier still deserves the honorary sign.

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“My neighbor, Jimmy Ohlinger, in 1966 got killed in Vietnam in the Kontum Province at the Dragon’s Crater,” White told the council. “He was like the first person from Morris County, or even New Jersey, killed in the Vietnam War.”

The council said it would review the township’s guides for street blades and consider White’s request.

White and his wife, Eileen, first suggested the street blade in a May, 2016 letter to the township. “Jimmy grew up and went to school in Roxbury Township,” said the letter. “He was a well-liked guy and was like a big brother to the younger kids in the neighborhood.”

The Whites said Ohlinger was “generous at lending a hand or being a friend,” and noted that the young man – whom they described as being “his mother’s world” – worked at Picatinny Arsenal and was engaged to be married before going to Vietnam.

“He did well in his short adult life of 21 years,” said the letter. “His mother grieved him till the day she died. His family would be honored to see him remembered by his true home town of Succasunna in Roxbury.”

In an Aug. 18 letter to Kenvil V.F.W. Post 2833, White also spoke about Ohlinger, urging the veterans to help him fight for the street blade.

“The town said Jimmy had to live in the town for 20 years,” said the letter. “He lived the majority of his life in Roxbury and graduated from Roxbury High School. There are many people in the town that used to know him and his family ... His mother lived in Roxbury and paid taxes way after his death and was a proud resident of our town.”

At Tuesday's meeting, Roxbury Councilman Richard Zoschak came out in support of the street blade. “I think James would have lived in the township for those 20 years had he not been killed in action,” he said.

Roxbury Township Clerk Amy Rhead said she would provide the council with the street blade criteria, noting Ohlinger doesn’t meet them. “It’s a tough thing,” she said.

“We will look into this and if it’s at all possible we will do it,” Roxbury Mayor Mark Crowley told White. He directed Roxbury Township Manager John Shepherd to “work on it” and report back.

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