ROXBURY, NJ – American flags flown inside military drones over combat zones in Africa were presented Tuesday to the township and its police chief by Roxbury Police Detective Jack Niemynski.

The detective, who is also a sergeant major in the New Jersey Army National Guard, presented the flags at a meeting of the Roxbury Mayor and Council. The meeting was attended by about a dozen of Niemynski's police colleagues.

“We talk about heroes walking among us and this is truly a homegrown Roxbury hero,” said Roxbury Mayor Bob DeFillippo in introducing Niemynski at the meeting.

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The mayor noted Niemynski has been with the department for 22 years. He's worked with the department’s SWAT team, its dive team, the honor guard, as a drill instructor at the police academy and has been "engaged heavily in countless investigations,” DeFillippo said.

He said Niemynski’s military service has spanned 30 years.

“Jack served in the active duty Army for three years and later enlisted in the New Jersey Army National Guard where he served another 27 years, earning the rank of sergeant major,” added the mayor. “Jack was previously deployed in Iraq, in 2008, where he served as an intelligence officer. His most recent deployment was to Africa, being staged in Djibouti and Somalia in support of CENTCOM and the Horn of Africa Missions.”

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Niemynski, insisting he isn’t a hero, but adding he’s “worked with a few being in the military as well as here in Roxbury,” said he flew the flags while in Africa and then asked that they be stowed in the nose-cones of MQ-9 Reapers flown in missions.

The flag presented Tuesday included a statement, thanking the township for its support, from the Air Force 12th Expeditionary Special Operations Squadron pilots involved in the drone flights. The statement said the flag was over the Horn of Africa on March 25, 2019

The flag presented to Roxbury Chief Police Chief Marc Palanchi was flown on May 4, 2019 in a mission against Al-Shabaab jihadist terrorists in Mogadishu, Somalia, according to Niemynski. On that day, a drone strike killed an Al Shabaab commander along with "a group of individuals who were trying to conduct a car-bombing," said the detective. "Whether this flag was actually involved in it, I cannot say. But I'll tell you; it was in the general area."

He said the flag was a token of his appreciation for the way the chief “has been very pro-active” in making sure the families of officers deployed for military service or otherwise going through tough times are well-supported.

At the meeting, Palanchi informed the council that Niemynski plans to retire from the police department in June.