RARITAN, NJ – After undergoing 17 weeks of training, a German Shepard named after Raritan’s own World War II veteran, Sgt. John Basilone, has been welcomed to the Somerset County Sheriff’s K-9 Unit.
Sheriff Frank Provenzano introduced Bas at a recent Raritan Borough Council meeting.
“We thought that we’d like to name the dog after Raritan’s favorite son, Gunnery Sgt. John Basilone,” Provenzano said. “Since Basilone is a three syllable word and most K-9s’ names are one or two syllables, we’ve decided to name the dog Bas.”
A long-time resident of Raritan, Basilone was killed while serving in World War II at the age of 28.
“I feel very honored tonight because Raritan is my hometown for many, many years and he is our local hero,” Provenzano said. “You can mention his name anywhere and any Marine will know who you’re talking about.”
Bas was trained at the Union County K-9 Academy, where he was taught how to detect narcotics, explosives and arsons as well as how to track humans. Replacing Wildman, a recently retired German Shepard, Bas will be partnered with Officer Shannon Dinella.
Basilone’s niece Kim Van Note -- who co-founded the Basilone Memorial Foundation with Raritan resident Don Tozzi – attended the meeting with her granddaughter and was happy to see the dog for the first time.
“My uncle would be honored having such an amazing dog named after him,” Van Note said after the meeting. “The Basilone Memorial Foundation is also very proud of the K-9 being named in his honor. We want to thank Sheriff Provenzano and all the officers.”
Although it is not common to name a police dog after a hero, Provenzano said it is just another way to remember the borough’s well-known war veteran.
“The way we see it is that they’ve named roads, bridges, overpasses, battleships and even a room at the Somerville Elks in John’s honor,” Provenzano said.
To give the sergeant even more recognition, Tozzi announced that after working with Rep. Leonard Lance for the past eight months, he has gotten the support of all the delegates to rename Raritan’s post office “Sgt. John Basilone Post Office.”
“Words cannot describe what an honor it will be to have the Raritan post office named after him,” Van Note said.