LITTLE FALLS, NJ – On Saturday, the residents of Little Falls gathered during a “Support the Troops” rally at the Little Falls Veterans Monument, where they honored Staff Sgt. Michael Hullender. A former resident of Little Falls, Hullender was killed in action on April. 28, 2007 during Operation Iraqi Freedom at the age of 29.
During the ceremony, a stone bearing his name was added to the monument, located at Wilmore Road Park at the intersection of East Main Street and First Ave.
The ceremony included performances from members of the Passaic Valley High School Marching Band and the Little Falls Girl Scouts. Veterans from several wars including Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq were also in attendance.
Roland Day, Past Post and County, Commander at the American Legion Post 108 led the event along with the Mayor James Damiano and members of the Township Council. They came to honor Hullender, including all those who have served and that are currently serving.
“We’re honored to have Michael’s mother here today, the residents of Little Falls and families of those currently serving,” said Day. “Keeping the veterans in the mindset of Little Falls is important and we do what we can to support them. We gave out Blue Stars to families with loved ones serving and we encourage others to come to the Post to receive their loved ones Blue Star.”
West Point graduate Herb Brychta Jr. honored Hullender with powerful words about who the person he was and how his memory will live on. Nick Kumburis, OCS 2nd Lieutenant, who is currently on active duty, acknowledged Hullender’s sacrifice and the importance of honoring all of those that have served and that are currently serving our country.
Day, along with Damiano, presented Hullender’s mother, Cindy Malmo, with a Gold Star. John Harris, Vietnam veteran and the Passaic County Veterans Officer also presented Malmo with the Passaic County Distinguished Service Medal.
After acknowledging the ultimate sacrifice that so many of our service men and women have made, Damiano said, “Today we acknowledge the void left in the hearts of all of the mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, cousins and friends who have themselves made the sacrifice of giving us their loved ones to ensure that we are able to enjoy the privileges that we do each day.”
Damiano closed by thanking Malmo for her sacrifice is the loss of her son Michael.
Malmo, who resided in Inwood for seven years, was visibly emotional from the outpouring of support from the community during the ceremony.
“Today was absolutely beautiful,” said Malmo. “So nice to have Mike remembered after 10 years of service. It’s amazing that the people of Little Falls took the time out of their day to hold such a beautiful event with everyone from the community coming together, it means a lot.”
Hullender, a medic, joined the Army in 1998. He was awarded a Bronze Star and also earned numerous medals and recognitions including the National Defense Service Medal, The Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, and the Iraq Campaign Medal. He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 501st Airborne Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division in Fort Richardson, Alaska.
The stone was donated by Council President Anthony Sgobba and his brother Phil Sgobba from Sgobba Monuments.