RARITAN, NJ - Somerset County and borough officials are inviting veterans and all members of the military to attend a ceremony Friday afternoon at 2:30 p.m. adjacent to the John Basilone Memorial.
Somerset County is deeding a small parcel of property which will be preserved as parkland in honor of Somerset County residents that have served in the military.
The larger-than-life statue of Basilone was erected on Somerset Street in 1948.
A nearby bridge over the Raritan River is also named in his honor.
The ceremony comes two days before the annual John Basilone Parade in Raritan on Sunday, Sept. 18. The parade begins at the Raritan train station.
Basilone, a Raritan resident and United States Marine Corps Gunnery Sergeant was 29 when he was killed on the beach at Iwo Jima Feb. 19, 1945. He had already been accorded the nation's highest military award for valor, the Medal of Honor, for heroism during the Battle of Guadalcanal in World War II. He was awarded the Navy Cross posthumously.
He was the only enlisted Marine to receive both the Medal of Honor and the Navy Cross in WWII.
He served three years in the United States Army with duty in the Philippines. He enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1940 and was deployed to Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, and then to Guadalcanal where he held off 3,000 Japanese troops after his 15-member unit was reduced to two other men.
Basilone has received other awards and honors. The US Postal Service has honored Basilone on a stamp; a stretch of Interstate 5 that passes through Camp Pendleton Marine base in California is called Gunnery Sergeant John Basilone Memorial Highway; Basilone’s life was also portrayed in an HBO movie.
A United States Naval destroyer commissioned in 1949 was named the USS John Basilone; it was decommissioned in 1977.
A second naval ship, DDG-122, a guided missile destroyer, was recently named in his honor.