FAIRFIELD, NJ — The Township of Fairfield’s mayor, council members and administrator wore special military green sweatshirts to last week’s council meeting in honor of Fairfield resident Corporal Neal David Epifanio, who died in Vietnam on Sept. 3, 1969.
Marking the 50th anniversary of the corporal’s death, Mayor James Gasparini presented his brother, Philip Epifanio, with a street sign that ceremonially names Horseneck Road between Fairfield Road and Plymouth Street “Corporal Neal D. Epifanio Way.”
Throughout the month of November, members of the Fairfield Police Department also wore olive drab green uniforms that closely resembled those worn by members of the United States armed forces as part of its “Honor Our Heroes” initiative. On the collars of each uniform, officers displayed the emblem of the 502nd Infantry division in memory of Corp. Epifanio as well as a pin from one of the branches of the armed forces.
According to Police Chief Anthony Manna, this was done as a way to pay tribute to and to thank veterans for their service and sacrifice. The idea for the uniforms was formulated over a year ago as a way for the Fairfield Police Department to bring awareness to the country’s veterans in a similar manner as they do for breast cancer awareness in the month of October, when the department wears uniforms trimmed in pink.
The cost for the uniforms was covered by the Fairfield Police Foundation.
“We felt it very important to call attention to the service and sacrifice our veterans made for all of us and wanted to do so in a unique way,” said Manna. “Having worn these uniforms for only one day, it seems we have already accomplished just that.”
Manna added that the uniforms were well received by both the public and the officers alike.
According to the chief, having so many community members stopping officers to ask about the new uniforms enhanced the department’s community policing efforts by stimulating officer-citizen dialogue and also gave officers the opportunity to speak to citizens about their local veterans.
Students and staff of West Essex High School also remembered veterans from North Caldwell, Roseland, Fairfield and Essex Fells by hosting a brunch at the school last month. CLICK HERE for the full story.
On behalf the entire Epifanio family, Philip thanked the mayor and council for this honor during last week’s meeting. He also stated that his both of his parents served in World War II: his mother as a nurse and his father as a member of the 84th Infantry division.