SCOTCH PLAINS/FANWOOD, NJ -- Scotch Plains Mayor Al Smith and Fanwood Mayor Colleen Mahr congratulated the grand marshals of the Scotch Plains-Fanwood Memorial Day Parade -- WWII veterans Joe Schott and Joe Murano -- at The Chelsea in Fanwood on Saturday.
The mayors interviewed Mr. Murano, 94, who was stationed in the Pacific during the war, and Mr. Schott, 97, who was stationed in Northern Ireland, for a program produced by Fanwood TV Cable Access. The grand marshals both signed up for military service as teenagers, moved to Fanwood in 1954, and raised five children here.
Mr. Murano said his mother would not let her only son join the armed forces at age 16, but a year later he was eligible to enlist in the U.S. Navy. He served as a carpenter - third class in New Guinea and Morotai in the South Pacific.
"The Japanese bombed us, but never hit our camp. They were so bad," said Mr. Murano, who recalled hearing the cheers as his ship sailed past the Golden Gate Bridge into San Francisco Bay upon his return home from the war.
Mr. Schott enlisted after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, trained to become a radio technician and began his service in October 1942. He was stationed in Derry during the war and once met Bob Hope and singer/entertainer Frances Langford when they came to perform for the troops. He later had a long career at Bell Labs.
"My brother, Ray, was angry (after Pearl Harbor) and enlisted in the navy the day he turned 17," said Mr. Schott. "He was one of my heroes."
The 2019 Scotch Plains-Fanwood Memorial Day Parade Committee recently announced that the annual concert, entitled, A Tribute to Fallen Heroes, will take place on Sunday, May 26, with the parade taking place on Monday, May 27. The theme of this year’s parade is All Gave Some… Some Gave All.
"We hold a special place in our hearts for these veterans, and we remember those who died serving our country," Mayor Mahr told TAPintoSPF.
"If you come to the concert in downtown Scotch Plains, you'll get a glimpse at all of our veterans, as we pay tribute to them during the show. I highly recommend it," Mayor Smith added. "They left their families at a young age to guarantee our freedoms." (See Memorial Day Weekend schedule of events below video.)
Memorial Day Concert (Sunday, May 26)
The eighth annual Memorial Day Concert will take place on Alan Augustine Village Green adjacent to the Municipal Building in downtown Scotch Plains, beginning at 6:30 p.m. The Westfield Community Concert Band will play patriotic tunes and traditional marches. The program will include the reading of letters written by members of the U.S. military to their loved ones back home.
Memorial Day Ceremonies (Monday, May 27)
There will be a memorial service and presentation of wreaths at 9:00 a.m. at the Fanwood Memorial Library at 5 Forest Road. A tribute and laying of wreaths will take place at 10:00 a.m. at the gazebo on Park Avenue and Front Street in downtown Scotch Plains.
Memorial Day Parade (Monday, May 27)
Starting at 10:45 a.m. the 2019 Memorial Day Parade will proceed from the gazebo in downtown Scotch Plains, along Park Avenue to Martine Avenue into downtown Fanwood, where it concludes at La Grande Park in Fanwood.
The annual parade is funded by the Township of Scotch Plains and the Borough of Fanwood. The concert is presented through the generosity of local donors – individuals, businesses and community organizations – that underwrite the expenses of staging the concert.
For those individuals or organization interested in participating in the parade or making a donation to support the concert, contact Bob LaCosta at the Township of Scotch Plains at (908) 939-8448 or firstname.lastname@example.org.