FANWOOD, NJ — Wearing a World War II veteran's hat on his head and overseeing the Fanwood Recycling Center for decades, Alan Ebersole was one of the most recognizable of Fanwood's residents. Ebersole, who was to be honored as a Grand Marshal in the upcoming Memorial Day parade, died at his home this week at the age of 94.
"You'd have to live it to understand what every man, woman and child was asked to do. I was an air raid warden at 17 in Westfield," Ebersole said in an interview with TAPintoSPF conducted just last week at Mara's Cafe with fellow World War II veterans Joe Nagy and Ed Miller. "We [America] were so ill prepared. Every factory had defense items being made by people who didn't know how to do it."
“What we accomplished was amazing," he added. "We beat our enemies in World War II because we could outproduce them with all elements of war. I was proud to be a part of that moment in history."
Ebersole served in the Army Air Corps, enlisting in 1942 and rising to the rank of Squadron Sergeant. In the spring of 1943, he was sent to Japan, served in Midway, and fought in the Aleutian Islands Campaign.
"Why would anyone want that place? It was so desolate and rainy. It was cold, but not that cold, because we were there in May," he said.
Being the son of a World War I veteran, Ebersole's decision to enlist and serve his country was an easy one.
"The world made us tougher back then, but I would do anything to help other people. We live in a different world now,” Ebersole said.
"I notice when I wear my hat that people I have never seen before will come up to me and say, 'Thank you for your service.' It means a lot," he said as his voice quivered.
After his discharge from the military in 1946, Ebersole went to work for the New Jersey Bell Telephone Company for 37 years, working the controller's office before retiring in 1983. However, he remained active through his community involvement. Ebersole was a volunteer with the Flintlocks, a group of veterans who do projects with the Boy Scouts, an organization he was associated with for more than 80 years.
Ebersole also helped establish and operate the Fanwood Recycling Center for more than 30 years until its closure in 2016. He made sure that volunteers, and the juvenile offenders performing community service, were familiar with the center's procedures.
Ebersole will be posthumously honored during May 29 Memorial Day services and parade.
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