SCOTCH PLAINS, NJ -- Governor Phil Murphy and local officials here in Scotch Plains honored the late Tuskegee Airman Malcolm Nettingham following the World War II veteran's death on Monday evening, Sept. 14.
During his COVID press briefing in Trenton on Wednesday, the governor praised Mr. Nettingham.
"Tuskegee Airman Malcolm Nettingham was an American hero and a proud part of our New Jersey family. We cannot thank him enough for his service and lifetime of commitment to our state," Murphy said. "My thoughts and prayers are with Malcolm’s loved ones."
"One of the secrets to his longevity and I quote him, 'Treat your neighbor as you would treat yourself.' Boy, that's good advice. Better words could never be spoken, and they have special resonance today," said the governor. "So may God bless you, Malcolm, and thank you for your service to our nation and lifetime commitment to our state. You made us all so, so, very, very proud."
Mayor Al Smith suggested flying flags at half staff during Tuesday's Scotch Plains Council meeting. Township Manager Al Mirabella replied that the flags could be lowered until Oct. 1, when Mr. Nettingham would have celebrated his 102nd birthday.
"They (the Tuskegee Airmen) worked so hard to make sure they'd be in the top part of the class because they were considered inferior at that time," said Mayor Smith. "It's quite a story and it's sad that he's gone, but he'll always be part of Scotch Plains."
Councilwoman Elizabeth Stamler also discussed the possibility of a ceremonial street sign in his honor, in the same manner that the town established Pat DiNizio Way at the intersection of Montague Ave. at the corner of Westfield Ave. Mayor Smith agreed that it would be a good idea because the township would not be able to rename Mountain Ave., where Mr. Nettingham lived for many years.
Councilman Roc White expressed his admiration for Tuskegee Airman during the meeting.
"It was always an honor for me to be around him. Because of great men like him I was able to serve my country in an integrated military," said Councilman White, who served in the U.S. Marine Corps. "He was in a rough time. He served our country well."
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