SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ – The Borough of South Plainfield, in partnership with American Legion Chaumont Post 243, Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Post 6763, and Elks Lodge 2298, recently announced a ‘Hometown Heroes’ program to honor and recognize resident veterans who served in all branches of the Armed Forces.
The goal of the ‘Hometown Heroes’ program, which is being funded through donations from the three aforementioned organizations, is to adorn borough lampposts with banners bearing the photo, name, and branch of service of South Plainfield veterans. Phase 1 of the program is set to kick off in time for the borough's 2019 Labor Day Parade.
“We all agreed, given the theme of the upcoming Labor Day Parade – Veterans…Always Serving, that this was a perfect time to kick-off the program,” said resident Joe Sacco, a member of the Hometown Heroes committee alongside Councilman Derryck White, Dan Uken of the Elks, Robert Bengivenga, Sr. of the American Legion, and Jake Martinez of the VFW.
In working with the Legion and VFW, the committee decided that Phase 1 would honor the 29 South Plainfield veterans killed in action; over the next week, banners honoring the fallen will be raised onto the lampposts along the Plainfield Avenue portion of the parade route.
“During the planning process, it only seemed appropriate to ask the American Legion and the VFW for their thoughts when it came to selecting those veterans for this first phase,” said White, adding, “They are the veterans organizations that truly represent our veterans.”
“Since we only had a couple months before the parade we, as a committee, decided to focus on the twenty-nine South Plainfield residents killed in action,” added Sacco, noting that the American Legion, VFW and Elks ‘graciously agreed to cover the costs’ for Phase 1.
"With the support of the American Legion and VFW, along with the Elks – the second largest contributor to veteran causes in the nation – we were able to collaborate and bring this to fruition. The goal of the Hometown Heroes program is to honor the South Plainfield men and women who bravely served our country," said White.
The Hometown Heroes committee plans to expand the program to include a second phase that coincides with Memorial Day 2020. Residents will be able to nominate a South Plainfield veteran – living or deceased – and purchase a banner in their honor. The program will be limited and subject to eligibility requirements. Full details, the cost of the banner, eligibility details, and launch of a South Plainfield Hometown Heroes website, will be announced on Nov. 11 - Veterans Day.
“Honoring our veterans who served is something the borough had been discussing and we are really excited about seeing this program implemented,” said White. “We hope this is something that the community of South Plainfield, which has always been dedicated to recognizing its veterans, will embrace. Collectively, as a committee, we are excited about working together and rolling out the second phase once we define all the details.”
The 29 veterans to be honored with banners in time for Labor Day include:
• Sergeant Trista L. Moretti – Operation Iraqi Freedom, Army
• Staff Sergeant Paul Cybowski – World War II, Army Air Forces
• Private 1st Class Carl Wenzel Jr. – World War II, Army
• Seaman 1st Class Leonard Piersante - Korea, Navy
• Private 1st Class Anthony Schillaci Jr. – Korea, Army
• Aerographer Mate 3rd Class John Libourel – World War II, Navy
• Lieutenant Myron Morrill – World War II, Army Air Forces
• Private 1st Class Vincent Nunnink – World War II, Army
• Sergeant Michael Puha – World War II, Army
• Private 1st Class Donald Ranger – World War II, Army
• Private 1st Class William Skene Jr. – World War II, Army
• Seaman 1st Class Michael Tooz – World War II, Navy
• Private 1st Class Patrick Yurgel – World War II, Army
• Seaman 1st Class John Vakerich –World War II, Navy
• Private 1st Class Carmine DeSepio – World War II, Army
• Private 1st Class Donald Fredericks – World War II, Army
• Master Sergeant Pasquale Famularo – Korea, Army
• Sergeant Edward Gruszcynski – World War II, Army
• Lieutenant Francis Gubernat, Jr. – World War II, Army Air Forces
• Private 1st Class Theodore Jankoski – World War II, Army
• Machinist Mate 2nd Class Henry Case – World War II, Navy
• Private 1st Class John Caffrey – World War II, Army
• Private 1st Class Fred Bolliger – World War II, Army
• Sergeant Antonio Bianculli – World War II, Army
• Private 1st Class Carmine DeFillipo – World War II, Army
• Seaman 1st Class Robert Cook – World War II, Navy
• Private 1st Class Robert Carbray – Korea, Army
• Lieutenant Robert Frase – World War II, Army
• Private 1st Class Joseph Zwolak – World War II, Army
“Hopefully, residents will recognize that a street in town has been named after each of the 29 South Plainfield veterans killed in action,” said Sacco, adding, “For me, as a lifelong resident it was nice to put a face with the name of the many streets I have driven on or by for so many years.”
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