FANWOOD, NJ -- The Scotch Plains-Fanwood Memorial Day Parade on Monday, May 29, will commemorate the sacrifices of fallen service men and women and recognize the accomplishments of three World War II veterans.
Fanwood residents Joe Nagy and Ed Miller will serve as co-grand marshals of the parade. Additionally, the parade will honor the service of Alan Ebersole, who had accepted the invitation to be a co-grand marshal this year, but died in late April at age 94.
Longtime Fanwood resident Joe Nagy wartime service spanned from the unpaved roads of Mississippi to the rubble of Hiroshima. He had two years of military training before the age of 20 to aid in America's efforts to win World War II.
Nagy originally worked in nearby Perth Amboy in the clay industry before being drafted into the Army in 1943 and training in Fort Dix. From there, Nagy bounced around: he spent 90 days in Texas working in the Tank Destroyer Battalion and then in a unit in South Carolina where he learned to “toughen up” and “live outdoors.” Nagy’s unit in South Carolina dismantled in 1944 and then went to train in Mississippi.
“There were no paved roads at the training compound in Mississippi,” explained the 94-year-old Nagy.
Nagy was an infantry replacement. At this point he had about two years of training under his belt and shortly afterward was sent abroad. He joined the occupying force in September 1945 -- just one month after the atomic bomb was dropped in Japan. Nagy’s unit conducted operations to bring peace tranquility to that country.
“Japan was badly devastated. Tokyo was almost nothing,” continued Nagy. “(In Hiroshima) One bomb and 120,000 people disappeared. You really recognized the futility of war in that moment.”
The WWII vet commended the way America handled the “new Japan.” He thought it was smart for General Douglas MacArthur – to allow the Japanese Emperor to stay in power and credits the general for turning Japan from a brutal nation to a reliable ally today.
After he returned home, Nagy stayed in the reserves for 23 total years and retired as a major.
Ed Miller, originally a native of Kearny, was just finishing high school in 1943. By late 1944, he found himself on the island of Palawan in the Philippines to aid the American fight against Japan during World War II.
Miller was drafted into the Army Air Corps in 1943. Part of the sixth aircraft repair unit in San Antonio, following basic training and 17 weeks of machinist school, he worked alongside civilians in the biggest repair station of the army to ready equipment for the war. In an interview with TAP into Scotch Plains-Fanwood, Miller discussed the frenzied sequence of events.
“Right out of school, the Army needed machinists. In high school, I had worked for a fellow who made model airplane engines, so I luckily had a little experience,” explained Miller.
Deployed to the Philippines in 1944, Miller was part of the 5th fighter squadron in support of the Chinese. He was assigned to the floating Air Depot of the Pacific to combat Japanese aggression in the South China Sea.
“We were there to support the invasion of Japan. That was our one and only focus and goal,” Miller said.
Upon his return home following victory, Miller moved to Fanwood and worked in manufacturing steel in nearby Garwood. He successfully earned his degree in math and science from Jersey City State College.
Memorial Day Concert (Sunday, May 28, 2017)
The fifth annual Memorial Day Concert will take place on Sunday, May 28, at the Alan Augustine Green at the Scotch Plains Municipal Building beginning at 6:30 p.m. The program will feature patriotic tunes and the reading of letters written by members of the U.S. military.
Memorial Day Parade and Ceremonies (Monday, May 29, 2017)
Memorial Day Commemoration ceremonies will take place at Fanwood Memorial Library at 9:00 a.m., and at the Scotch Plains Gazebo on Park Ave. at 10:00 a.m. The Memorial Day Parade will commence at 10:45 a.m. from the Municipal Building in Scotch Plains. It will proceed along Park Ave., move down Martine Ave. into the center of Fanwood and end at LaGrande Park.
The 2017 Memorial Day Parade is funded by the Township of Scotch Plains and the Borough of Fanwood. The Memorial Day Concert is presented through the generosity of local donors – individuals, businesses and community organizations – who underwrite the concert expenses. If you would like to donate, checks can be made payable to: Memorial Day Parade Committee, Attn: Bob Lacosta, Township of Scotch Plains, 430 Park Ave, Scotch Plains. NJ 07076. For questions about donation levels, call (908) 322- 6700 x308.