WILLIAM J BARR
Born in 1914 in Philadelphia, PA.
He served as a 1st Lieutenant in the US Army from 1941-1945 with six months spent as a Prisoner of War in Germany before escaping with his fellow prisoners when Germany abandoned the camp due to the approach of Russian soldiers.
William “Bill” Barr returned to the US where he ran his own appliance repair business. Bill and his wife Catherine raised a family of 5 in Audubon, NJ.
GERALD NORMAN BELANGER
Resident of Haddonfield, passed away peacefully in his home on March 27. 2019, at the age of 98. He was surrounded by family.
He was the beloved husband of the late Margaret Belanger (nee Underwood). The Loving father of Faith, Lorelie & Christine. The proud grandfather of Elizabeth Santaniello, Uncle and great uncle to many nieces and nephews.
Gerard, fondly known as Jerry, born Sept.7, 1920 in Willimantic, CT. The 2nd son of Solomon & Laura. He was raised on their farm with brothers, Roland & Robert. When not in school the boys spent time with their chickens, dogs, cats, and a dairy cow. Jerry even had his own flock of pigeons. Jerry and his brothers helped their grandfather stomp grapes and berries to make homemade wine.
In 1938, age 18, he joined the US Army Air Corps. He served in WWII as a Navigator on transport planes delivering US-built planes to the UK. Later as a pilot of the Flying Fortress, B-17. He continued flying after the war and served in Turkey training Turkish pilots. There he met his wife Margaret who was working with the U.S. Army and the Red Cross. Jerry & Margaret fell in love and were married in Ankara, Turkey.
By the 1960s they had traveled to 45 states and 34 countries. While in the service Jerry continued his studies earning his Bachelor of Arts & Bachelor of Science. Jerry retired in 1961 after 23 years rising to the rank of MAJ. Major Belanger’s last position in the re-named US Air Force was Director of Personnel for the Strategic Air Command Wing. Post retirement he earned a Master of Science in Psychology in 1962 from Florida State University, Tallahassee, Florida.
In 1963 he entered the Unity School of Ministerial and Religious Studies, Lee’s Summit, Missouri becoming the student assistant to James Dillet Freeman, Director of Training. In 1966, ordained a Unity Minister by Lowell Fillmore, son of Charles & Myrtle Fillmore, the co-founders of Unity. That same year becoming Minister of Christ Church Unity, Rochester, NY. He was instrumental in the design & construction of a new church with the congregation and architects that represent the Unity principles. He served there for 13 years.
Under his leadership Unity became well known in the community and the congregation grew. Jerry viewed the ministry as a natural culmination of his varied life experiences working with people. He believed, “Every person has an intuitive feeling of a greater self than that which they presently expressed”. He strived to help people understand the Unity teachings by developing courses which also related to fields such as physics, psychology, physiology, and other world religions.
Reverend Belanger remained active in the Association of Unity Churches throughout his life. He served on the AUC Board of Trustees, the Ministerial Advisory Committee and as Vice President and then President of the Eastern Regional Conference. After leaving Rochester, he moved to North Carolina to Minister at the Unity Church in Charlotte.
When Jerry retired from the ministry, he moved to Tallahassee, Florida and then later to Daytona Beach until 2009. Moved to Haddonfield to live with his daughter, Lorelie and granddaughter, Liz. He became an active member of the American Legion Post #38 and the Unity Church of Christ in Mt. Laurel. He was a man of science, faith, imagination, and flight.
Even in his last years Jerry continued to make new friends from different religions, backgrounds, and cultures. He loved connecting with others. He was often seen tipping his hat to people on the street and going out of his way to say hello. His key to life was simple:
“Just love people.” Which he did, with a smile and a sparkle in his eyes. He loved and was beloved by many and will live forever in our hearts.
He is buried in Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, VA, with his beloved wife. He received full military honors.
RONALD L BOND
Submitted by Gene Kain
Ron and I were friends and teammates from Little League thru High School. We were wrestling partners 4 years at HMHS. I could write tons, however, the enclosed description of his time in the military pretty much sums up the person he became. _____
Air Force Captain Ronald L. Bond December 14, 1947 – September 30th, 1971Ron was a 1965 graduate of HMHS.
An excellent student and a standout wrestler for all 4 years. In 1969 he graduated from the US Air Force Academy, promptly volunteered to go to Vietnam and the most dangerous missions. Meaning “low reconnaissance”- they went first/flew low/ only the best were taken and they were all volunteers. On September 30th, 1971 on his 150th mission in 222 days, Ron’s plane went missing.
No trace of the plane or anyone in it has ever been found. Ron is still listed as MIA (missing in action). This all happened only 6 years after graduating from HMHS.
The wrestling room at HMHS is named in Ron’s honor and each year the team honors Ron’s memory by opening their season with the Air Force Captain Ronald L. Invitational Tournament.
GEORGE BONFANTI – SGT
US ARMY AIR FORCE- From SCRANTON, PA
Activity during WWII:
Sergeant served October 1942- October `945 in the First Fighter group, 71st Squadron
Serves in the European of Operations from July 1944-October 1945
Medals and Citations:
European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with 7 Bronze Stars
Presidential Citation with 2 Bronze Stars
American Campaign Medal
WWII Victory Medal
Served in Rhineland, Northern Apennines, PO Valley, Air Offensive Balkans. Northern France. Southern France and Rome-Arno.
George Bonifanti is the father of Alisann “Sam” Romanelli, past Adjutant of Haddonfield AL Post 38. Sam also belonged to the American Legion Ruth Altone Post 374 located in Oaklyn, Pa. – an All Female membership AL Post (now closed)
MSG DONALD BRANDINELLI
Graduated US Navy boot camp in San Diego April 1989, completed Advanced Individual Training (Builders Advanced School) at Port Hueneme in July 1989.
Served with NMCB 21 (Lakehurst, NJ), MDSU2 (Philadelphia PA), UCT 1 (Little Creek VA). Honorably discharged from the Navy in 1999.
Joined NJARNG- Mar 1999 served with RTSM (Fort Dix), 110th EUD (Tuckerton NJ), 150th Eng Co (Hammonton NJ). transferred to USAR in Jan 2016, served with 953rd FEST-A (Fort Dix NJ), 903rd FEST-A (Los Alamitos CA), 394th FEST-A (Mountain View CA).
Deployed 2008-09 – Iraq (50th IBCT)
Deployed 2018-19 – Iraq (953rd FEST-A)
Deployed 2020-21 – Kuwait/Iraq (394th FEST-A)
VINCENT LEO CROUGH PVT
Submitted by Daniel F. Crough
Co.C, 83rd armored RCN BN,32nd armored regiment, 3rd armored division, 1st ArmyKIA 27 February, 1945, near GROUVEN, GermanyMy dad, affectionately called Vince, was born April 21, 1911 in Syracuse New York. He was the sixth of 8 children born to parents Daniel Patrick and Johanna Bourke, CROUGH.
He attended Saint Lucy’s Academy, class of January 1929 of BLODGETT Vocational HS. He played the violin as a young man and drew beautiful Pen and ink sketches. He was a member of the golf team and want to New York State championship 3 years in succession. He took a mail order course in architecture in drafting years later.His sweetheart, Sarah Jane Mc Mahon was 18 years old and he was 24 when they married May 1935. I was born in February 1936 and named for my grandfather Daniel Patrick, and my father’s favorite older brother Daniel Francis who had been killed in a tragic car/train collision in 1928.The summer after my 5th birthday another son was born into our family and named after my father. Unfortunately, he died a few hours after the birth from the Rh factor, which was unknown to medical science at the time.
For 15 years prior to joining the United States Army, my father worked at a warehouse of the great Atlantic and Pacific tea company. He was a foreman of the Packers supply division when he was drafted.He was drafted into the US Army April 5, 1944, age 33 joining with two of his brothers in Service of their Country. Trained at Fort Meade MD, Fort Knox KY, Camp CHAFFE, AR and Fort ORD CA, where his unit practiced amphibious landing. He never held a gun before basic training yet he won several medals for marksmanship.My father was a gunner in an M24 “CHAFFE” light tank, part of a reconnaissance unit in the story 3rd Armored “Spearhead” Division of the 1st Army. He participated in the Allied Counteroffensive in the Battle of the Bulge.
He was killed as the push to Cologne began, less than two months after arriving in Europe.Dad was originally reported MIA as of March 2 in the Morning Report for Company C dated March 5 The report was corrected and his death recorded as March 2nd, in the Morning Report dated March 13. I learned on July 4, 2001 in a chance encounter with a Veteran of Company C who joined the unit on the same day as my father, that Dad was actually killed on February 27, 1945, in Grouven, Germany. His tank, burned so badly, it took several days to identify his remains.On that fateful day, the 83rd reconnaissance Italian was operating into battle groups. My father’s platoon of tanks was in a column with A company infantry. Combat interviews with the officers of the 83rd contain this report: Meanwhile, the attack was being organized in the town of GROUVEN. Launching 1100 hrs., with a company moving in open formation across the field on both sides of the road to GROUVEN. Hitting heavy opposition and the loss of 3 of 5 tanks to the enemies AT fire.
The telegram from the War Dept. informing of his death was delivered by the neighborhood telegrapher to my mother,March 22, 1945. I was at school. On the long walk home from school that day and neared my house. A neighbor was clearing the sidewalk of snow, said to me, I’m sorry to hear about your dad. I had no idea what he was talking about until I crossed the street to my house. My mother and one of her sisters were there to tell me the unwelcome news.I learned many years later Dad told his oldest brother he did not expect to return from overseas. I know he must’ve had confidence that my mother could face the future without him if necessary. His confidence in her was well placed. She was a 28 year old widow with a 9 year old son. She exhibited remarkable strength of character and carried on in the best traditions of the time since her own mother had died in November 1944. Mom also provided a home for 2 of her brothers upon their return home from military service.
Dad was a loving father and we were very close. We went to church together, enjoyed ice cream sodas at the drug store afterwards. We played baseball and football in the park. When he came home from work, he always seemed to have a treat for me in his lunch pail. We had a lot of fun together on family vacation trips, although Dad never owned a car. He had a super smile and a great sense of humor, in the Irish tradition, he was a strict disciplinarian. I felt a yardstick a few times when I was disobedient, but I loved him very much. He only had to whistle and I came running.
While I grieved his death, I felt his strength and inspiration as I resolved to become the “Man of the House”. It was what I thought he would want me to do. In later years, I kept him in my mind and in my heart by displaying the Stars and Stripes in my office throughout a business career. I think that would be a source of pride for him.Dad’s remains were interred temporarily in HENRI CHAPELLE cemetery in Belgium. In 1947 his remains were returned to his native Syracuse, New York. After a very moving military funeral. he was buried in the shadow of the CROUGH family monument at Saint Mary’s cemetery alongside his father, his brother Daniel Francis, and his infant son.
My mother, who remarried in 1949 had two more children, is also buried in the same cemetery. She died in 1972.In an ironic twist of fate, my wife and I became OMA and OPA when our granddaughter was born in Germany on Thanksgiving Day 1984, less than 100 miles away my father was killed. Our son-in-law at the time was a civilian working in Germany under contract with the USAF. Our granddaughter and the 8 other grandchildren who followed are Father’s happy legacy.
I am forever grateful for the 9 years of love, friendship, encouragement and guidance I enjoyed with my Father. It was enough for a lifetime.
Vietnam ERA Veteran, Honor Graduate of the Fort Knox, Ky NCO Academy.
Awarded various Federal, State & Pennsylvania Army National Guard Medals & Commendations, including the prestigious General Stewart ARNG Medal.
Former Platoon Sergeant, Senior Armor Sergeant, Tank Commander, Armor Squad Leader
Born and raised in Philadelphia. Educated at Frankford High School (Phila.), Temple University and Philadelphia College of Textiles and Sciences (now Jefferson University).
All education majoring in Business Management. My intended goal was West Point; however, I married my High School sweetheart 3 years prior to the inflation of the Vietnam War. My entire business life was spent in management in Procurement, Materials Management and Production Control.
I spent 14 years in Civil / Defense Contracting, Retired in 2012 from SEPTA, then entered the US Army in1966, Basic Training/Infantry School- Fort Jackson, SC then AIT (Advanced Individual Training) Fort Knox, KY. Stationed: Ft. Jackson and Ft. Knox, continually harassed by cadre and officers to sign up for OCS. Instead, signed up for FT. Knox, NCO Academy, proudly graduated Sergeant E-5.
I was a non-combatant soldier during the Vietnam ERA. After serving my military term, I served in the PA National Guard- Senior Armor NCO. Responsible for all M-46 and M-60 Tanks at the Armory. Promoted to an E-6 Staff Sergeant, Tank Commander, then Platoon Sergeant, temporary E-7 (Sergeant First Class). My Second Platoon kept losing Platoon Leaders.
Taught Armor Tactics and Riot Control. My ARNG unit was known as an “SRN”, a Selected Reserve Force” (1 st to be deployed, we were notified 4 times. each time the deployment was cancelled).
Since the 60s and 70s was such a contentious time, with so much unrest in our cities, the decision was to keep our unit stateside.
Of the awards earned, I am most proud to receive the ARNG “General Stewart Medal” for excellence in performance of duty.
AMANDA FISK AND SLOAN FISK
Submitted by Pamela Fisk
As the daughter of a decorated British Army officer in World War 11, I am especially proud that my twin son and daughter, known affectionately as Baby Boy (the youngest of three male siblings) and Only Daughter (sister of the same) chose to serve in the Army of the United States.
Amanda was commissioned as she graduated from Lafayette College and she later administered the oath to Sloan when he was commissioned. She served for four years, including leading a platoon during the invasion of Iraq; he will have served for twenty years in 2024 and was awarded Bronze Stars for each of his two tours in Iraq.
Sloan, now a Lieut. Colonel and his wife, Heather, a Colonel, are based at Fort Bliss, El Paso, Texas; Amanda is an attorney in Tacoma, WA.
PL-1LT AMANDA FISK
My unit, NC 15. departed Kuwait and crossed over the border into Iraq, following a convoy of hundreds of vehicles. After 52 hours of driving, we arrived to what we thought was our final destination for quite some time. However, that proved not to be the case.
The original objective to set up a home base turned out to be a base housing for an Iraqi anti-aircraft battery full of munitions. After the location was determined to be it unsafe for infiltration or objective, we were moved further north, about 30km to OBJ Peterbilt. On the way we were just minutes ahead of mortar attack at the previous refueling site along the route.
After days of travel, and heightened sense of security, we arrived at Peterbilt. This would be our home for just a few days. After threats of an imminent attack at this location three days later, once again we mobilized to find safety for the night before traveling north, then linking up with the rest of our Battalion.
Finally, happy to see familiar faces of our comrades of the 17th for the first time since the war began, we bedded down for yet another night in the confines of our Battalion Headquarters. It was time to recuperate from the past week and a half of travel. The next day we were all on the move out to different locations dispersed, around OBJ Bushmaster.
We nestled into the perimeter of a MASH unit aiding US wounded as well as housing wounded Iraqi, EPWs. This is where we find ourselves today. Now that we have settled down in our new home for a few weeks, we are anxiously awaiting the coming news on a jump further north of Baghdad.
EDWARD H. HANSBERRY
Edward H. Hansberry, age 100, of Atlantic City, New Jersey, a decorated World War II US Marine Corps veteran, passed away September 22, 2023 after a brief stay in AtlantiCare regional medical center. He was predeceased by his wife for 50 years, Elizabeth “Bette” Schilling in 1997.
He is survived by 3 children Bonnie (Rich Tyson), Colleen (Jeff Banasz) and Brian and his wife Denise Hansberry. Many grandchildren, Tim, Mark, jJnny, Jeffrey, Lauren, Jamie, David, 12 great grandchildren and many nieces and nephews.
Ed was born in Atlantic City and attended area high school, he was hard-working, He had a passion for baseball. He enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1942, entered the Pacific theater, There he saw action on Eastern New Guinea, CapeGloucester, Peleliu and Okinawa.
Military honors: Battle Stars, Purple Heart and the US NAVY Cross- received for extraordinary heroism, while serving as Leader of the Engineering Squad.
He cleared a field of mines, 75 yards in length, crawling on hands and knees, probing for operating hostile mines while under intense enemy machine gun, rifle and mortar fire, clearing the path for a convoy of 1st Marine Division, Sherman German tanks, contributing to the success of the Marines Mission. He was humble about his accomplishment and often expressed,”The real heroes never come home.”
Returned from war in 1945, Hansberry resumed his passion for baseball, playing semi-professional ball with the Pleasantville A’s, and began a 28 year career with the New Jersey DMV. Retiring in 1975 as a senior inspector, NJDMV Enforcement, Bureau of Highways.
He enjoyed settling into his role as a husband, and eventually father of 3 children. He was a bit of a Renaissance Man, seeming able to do, build, or fix anything, Also well read – often encyclopedic about information.
His command of Title 39, the resource for motor vehicles and traffic laws in New Jersey, was legendary. It was common for local police and attorneys to seek information and advice from him. He was generous about helping others, whether neighbor, or stranger, and supporting charities that help the veterans was important to him, and he did so, by contributing to Disabled American Veterans. He loved sharing seashore life with his family, fishing, swimming and occasional trips to the area lakes, which included great picnics.
He loved homemade meatballs, especially Bette’s and all forms of pasta. For many years, his flounder catch filled the freezer to be prepared year-round for Friday night family dinners. Hands-down, his favorite dessert was ice cream, which he ate every night. He appreciated good music, movies and all sport events participating in the Golden Glove boxing in his early years. He was a lifelong Yankees fan and was an early and long-time season-ticket holder for the Flyers. His greatest source of pride was putting his 3 children through college and of their success. He derived so much joy from his grandchildren and great grandchildren.
Mark Hansberry graduated from the United States Naval Academy, class of 2011. He has served on several ships in his career in Bahrain and Florida with various titles. He is currently a Chief Engineering Officer, and now LT Commander, presently assigned to the Pentagon.
JOHN WALTER LEVERING
Born at Ft. Sill, Oklahoma, on June 19th, 1945 and passed away at home in Charlottesville, VA, on April 23rd,2013 from Myelodysplastic Syndrome, a result of Agent Orange exposure in Vietnam. During his service he achieved the rank of Captain in the US Army. He served 2 tours in Vietnam as a helicopter pilot.
Following includes some information published when Walt received the HMHS Lifetime Achievement Award in 2017:
Walter Levering is recognized for his exemplary achievements in life as a war hero; successful businessman; “giving back” to his schools, church, and his community; as well as being a great family man. His family moved to Haddonfield in 1954 where he attended Elizabeth Haddon Elementary School. He graduated in 1963 from HMHS where he played football, was a varsity wrestler, his Class Vice President, and Student Council Treasurer. Upon graduation, he attended the University of Virginia then volunteered for the Army Warrant Officer Helicopter Flight School in June of 1966. During his first tour, 6/67-6/68, he was awarded the Silver Star and the Distinguished Flying Cross Air Medal. He went to Officer Candidate School. Following his training he left for a 2nd tour, 5/70-6/71. In Vietnam again he awarded 2 Bronze Stars, the Army Commendation Medal, 26 Oak Leaf Clusters and the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry.
Walt married 1963 HMHS classmate, Karen Funston; they had 3 children, twin daughters, Jennifer and Katie- also a son, Ben.
In June of 1971, he left the Army and lived in Haddonfield, then in Sherborne, MA, where he led the restoration of an old community icon, the condemned 1858 Old Town House. It was rehabilitated and converted to a community center and was designated one of George Bush’s “1000 Points of Light”. The family finally settled in Charlottesville, VA, where he was involved in UVA activities, founded the Central Virginia Technology Council, and was a former president of the board of Piedmont Virginia Community College. Walter was buried November 11th, 2013 in Arlington National Cemetery with full military honors.
J. DAVID MAYNES
Submitted by Carolyn Maynes Battagl
Visiting Haddonfield, I was so glad to walk Kings Highway to see the banners. I have submitted one for my late father, J. David Maynes. He was born in 1931, grew up in Allentown, PA, youngest of 4 children. His two older brothers and brother-in-law served in WWII. This inspired him to join when he was old enough. He went to Villanova on a NROTC scholarship. After active duty he did 20 years in the Reserves. I treasure my childhood memories of him walking out the door in his uniform each month. Always been one of the most patriotic people I have ever known. He died 5 years ago, buried in the Haddonfield Baptist cemetery across from HMHS along with my mother who joined him just 8 weeks later. Their gravestone is engraved with the Navy phrase, “Fair Winds and Following Seas,” as our final goodbye.
Craig McGettigan’s journey towards becoming a Marine is one of determination and a strong desire to serve his country. He underwent rigorous basic training at Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island, South Carolina, before being assigned to Basic Helicopter School in Millington NAS, where he honed his skills in repairing and maintaining helicopter systems and components.
As an aircraft mechanic and eventually a CH-53E crew chief, Craig served in various squadrons, including HMH-464 and HMH-461 during the Gulf War. He participated in support missions, transporting Iraq Prisoners of War (POWs) and various casualties of war, as well as numerous combat missions, for which he was awarded both the Combat Action Ribbon and Combat Aircrew Wings with one gold star.
After the Gulf War, Craig engaged in humanitarian efforts during his second overseas tour, helping to divert a lava flow from Mt. Etna to save a Sicilian village, for which he was awarded an Air Medal with one strike.
Craig’s dedication and bravery earned him numerous accolades, including a Sea Service Deployment Ribbon with 1-star, National Defense Service Medal, Combat Aircrew Insignia with 1-star, Southwest Asia Service Medal with 3-stars, Good Conduct Medal with 1-star, Navy Unit Commendation, Kuwait Liberation Medal, Combat Action Ribbon, Air Medal with 1 strike, and Humanitarian Service Medal. He was honorably discharged from the United States Marine Corps in August of 1994.
Throughout his service, Craig traveled to various places worldwide, including Cuba, Portugal, Spain, France, Italy, Egypt, Israel, UAE, and Bahrain. Craig McGettigan’s unwavering commitment to serving his country and his bravery during wartime are a wonderful demonstration of American patriotism.
Born in Camden, NJ August 15, 1967. His family moved to Haddonfield NJ 1969. He spent his life in Haddonfield. He graduated from HMHS in 1985. Then attended Villanova University until 1988. He enlisted in the Naval Reserve, December 30, 1997 under the Advanced Paygrade Program, attending Recruit Training at Naval Personnel Support Center New Orleans LA. Graduated as a Gunner’s Mate 3rd Class. Attended Naval Law Enforcement Specialist School at Willow Grove Naval Air Station. He was assigned to the Security Detachment for Naval Air Station Patuxent River as a Military Police Officer.
GMC O’Pella was recalled to active duty in support of Operation Noble Eagle in September 2001, assigned to the Security Team at Naval Weapons Station Earle in Colts Neck,NJ. He was assigned the duties of Base Armorer, Range Safety Officer, and Field Training Officer for the Command’s Law Enforcement Team. He received his Certification as a Small Arms Marksmanship Instructor.
Promoted to Gunner’s Mate 2nd Class in 2003, returned to Naval Reserve in August 2003. Upon re-affiliation with the Naval Reserve, assigned to Inshore Boat Unit 24 serving initially as Armorer/Firearms Instructor. He qualified as Crewman/Lookout, Gunner, and Engineer of the Watch on the Sea Ark 34’ Patrol Boats as well as the 25’ Dauntless class patrol boats. Following promotion to Gunner’s Mate First Class, May 2006 he mobilized as Individual Augmentee, serving with Naval Provisional Detainee Battalion 2 as squad leader May to August 2006 in Fort Bliss Texas when, due to pressing family concerns, he demobilized and returned to the Naval Reserve. Following this he was assigned to Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 21 from December 2010 to January 2011, serving as Battalion Armorer/Firearms instructor.
GMC O’Pella assigned to Naval Cargo Handling Battalion 8, Surface Company Bravo in January 2011, became qualified as Stevedore, Crane Operator, Hold Boss. June 2016 Selected for Chief Petty Officer, in September 2016 was accepted into the Mess. He currently serves with Cargo Terminal Co. ALPHA as cargo terminal supervisor. Additionally, he served as Battalion Expeditionary Warfare Specialist program coordinator. Serving during Operation DeepFreeze at McMurdo Station, Antarctica in winter 2016.
August 2019 GMC O’Pella mobilized, individual augmentee to Djibouti Africa, Joint Special Operations Command returning to Reserve status, June 2020. GMC O’Pella Retired: US Navy 01 APRIL 2021- 24 years of Honorable service.
GMC O’Pella is authorized to wear the Expeditionary Warfare Specialist breast insignia. Personal awards include the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal, the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal (5), Navy Good Conduct Medal (5), Naval Reserve Meritorious Service Medal (5), Antarctic Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Medal (Expeditionary), Global War on Terrorism Medal (Service), Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal, Armed Forces Reserve Medal
ALBERT VINCENT PESCATORE
Born in South Philadelphia Fall of 1923. His parents along with his 2 younger sisters persevered through the Great Depression with extremely modest means. He attended Catholic schools, enlisted in the U.S. Army November 1942 and was placed on inactive service until May 1943.
His place of entry into the Service was New Cumberland PA and sent to basic training in Alabama. The Army assigned him to a specialist training program at the University of Delaware where his term was scheduled to end in January 1944. However, the Army had other plans and reassigned him as an ammunition handler and heavy mortar crewman.
Sent to Europe September 1944, assigned to the 104th Infantry Division (known as the Timberwolves). He participated in the campaigns of Northern France, the Rhineland and Central Europe and received the European African Middle Eastern Medal, World War II Victory Medal, American Service Medal and the Distinguished Service Citation (April 1945).
In July 1945, he was assigned to Camp San Luis Obispo, CA as Supply Non-Commissioned Officer (NCO) in preparation for an invasion of mainland Japan. After the War ended in September 1945 he was discharged in December 1945 as a Staff Sergeant and provided with little traveling money to get back to Philadelphia.
The Army had another calling for him in August 1949 when he joined the Officers Reserve Corp as 2nd LT and was assigned to Military Intelligence in September 1949. His official papers reminded him that he was a soldier first and a specialist second. After almost four years of reserve duty, heresigned his commission in April 1953.
After his military service he was employed by Rohm and Hass in Philadelphia and then RCA Corporation in South Jersey for over 33 years while residing in Haddonfield with his wife, Doris, and two children.
He passed away in March 2019 and in accordance with his wishes is interred at Washington Crossing Memorial Cemetery with Doris who passed away March 2022.
ESTHER SIMPSON STOUT
Growing up in Hamilton Township, New Jersey, Esther’s parents, and grandfather founded and owned Eet Gud Bakery (still exists today under different owners.) Her parent’s example during the depression when they gave bread away to anyone who was hungry but couldn’t pay, inspired Esther to a life of service.
Esther graduated early after skipping two grades and was too young to enter nursing training. She worked as a nanny until she was old enough to begin her training as a nurse at Mercer Hospital in Trenton. After being trained and working as a nurse she decided to pursue graduate work and went to New York City to learn the intricacies of working in the operating room.
She joined the Army Nurse Corps and was sent to the front serving in England and France. Esther related that being a nurse was not only providing physical care but also emotional. The soldiers were so young, and many had lost limbs, were scarred, and ultimately lost their lives in the army hospital far away from their families and home.
Esther’s name is inscribed on the Wall of Liberty as 1st Lieutenant “one of the courageous Americans whose sacrifice and commitment led to the liberation of the continent of Europe during World War II.” She also received decorations and citations: American Theater Campaign Ribbon, World War II Victory Medal, and European African Middle Eastern Theater Campaign Ribbon.
Esther was honorably discharged on February 3, 1946 after having saved countless lives and offering comfort to many soldiers while serving unselfishly during World War II. She then married and raised a family. Then continued her nursing career in a general hospital and a geriatric facility until her retirement at the age of 62.
Joined the US Air Force in January 1955.
He had been working at RCA in Camden, NJ, wanting to utilize the opportunities that military service would provide. The allure of working with and flying planes guided his choice of the Air Force as his branch of the service.
Over the course of his deployment, Stanley gained an appreciation for the upward mobility that a college degree would offer. He utilized the GI Bill and attended Rutgers University in Camden, NJ.
He graduated in 1973 with a BS in Management and went on to have an illustrious career as an Engineer. One of Stanley’s many positions was as a consultant to the FAA.
He wrote procedural documentation on systems that provide enhanced situational awareness for both controllers and pilots.
David Tarditi graduated from the University of Delaware with a B.S. in Accounting May 1966.
Three months later he received a notice to report to Fort Dix on Sept 6,1966. An Army recruiter called him a week after he received the draft notice and convinced him to become an officer by enlisting as a College-Opt with a fixed schedule: 8 weeks of basic training, followed by 8 weeks of Advanced Infantry training, and then an additional 23 weeks of Officers’ Candidates School-Infantry at Fort Benning, Columbus, Georgia.
About the 18th week, he applied to change from Infantry to Finance and was commissioned as a 2nd Lt. Finance. He then went to 6 weeks of Finance Officers Basic School. He was assigned to Fort Dix, NJ until he was honorably discharged from “Active Duty” July, 1969. A year later, he was “Activated” in the Army Reserves and assigned to a “Port Transportation Company” – one weekend a month plus 2 weeks each summer when the unit did its annual training.
He was formally discharged from all military obligations after serving our country for 5 years and 10 months. He has been an active member of the NJ American Legion for 41 continuous years.
Rodney Thomas served in the USAF for almost eight years from 1973 to 1980. He worked as a logistician and in technology operations, serving mostly in South Dakota, Alaska, and NJ.
Rodney grew up in Trinidad, came to the US when he was 14, and joined the military at the age of 17.
He received several decorations including the NCO Academy and USAF Commendation Medals.
Originally from Haddon Heights, NJ, I joined the United States Navy in 1995 through Officer Candidate School (OCS) after college and served six years on active duty. During that time, I completed two deployments on the USS ANZIO (CG-68), a guided missile cruiser, where I served in the Adriatic Sea and Persian Gulf supporting events in Kosovo and Iraq. I also served at SEAL Team 3 moving logistics after the attacks on September 11, 2001.
I was awarded the Navy Commendation Medal, Navy Achievement Medal (twice), and a Letter of Commendation in addition to eight command medals and ribbons for the above deployments. I left active duty at the rank of Lieutenant and was promoted to Lieutenant Commander in the Reserves before I was discharged. I live in Haddonfield, NJ with my wife Debbie, daughter Carly, and dog Jetty. I am presently an executive with Albireo Energy and a Commissioner in the Borough of Haddonfield (elected May 2021)
JOHN W UNDERWOOD
John was the youngest of 5 children. His father, James Archie, and his mother, Sallie, were so proud of him as were his brothers and sisters. John’s 2 brothers also served in the US Navy. John, age 17, joined the Navy in1942 after HS graduation. He served from 1942 through 1945.
During WWII, Admiral Halsey commanded the third fleet, (4 task groups) used the USS Battleship New Jersey as his command ship. The USS Lexington was part of that task group. John was a member of the flight crew on the USS Lexington, one of the large aircraft carriers in the big fleet in.
He was a torpedo/glide bomber, radioman/radar operator, and tail/belly gunner on torpedo bombers. His crew flew out in advance of the ground forces hundreds of miles. His squadron hit Iwo Jima bombing the airfields and military buildings, etc. six months before the big invasion. They did the same thing seven months before the invasion of Okinawa.
He participated in the Coron Bay Air Raid, 24 September 1944. After that Air Raid, he was involved in the Battle of Leyte Gulf. The Battle of Leyte Gulf[ was the largest naval battle of World War II and by some criteria the largest naval battle in history, with over 200,000 naval personnel involved. The battle consisted of four main separate engagements ( Battle of the Sibuyan Sea, Battle of Surigao Strait, Battle off Cape Engaño, and Battle off Samar), as well as lesser actions. Allied Forces announced the end of organized Japanese resistance on the island at the end of December. John participated in the Battle of the Sibuyan Sea and the Battle of Cape Engaño. John received the Navy’s Distinguished Flying Cross after this Battle.
From his Citation for the ‘Distinguished Flying Cross’:
“For heroism and extraordinary achievement in aerial flight as Aircrew of a Torpedo Plane in Torpedo Squadron NINETEEN, attached to the USS Lexington, during action against enemy Japanese forces in the Battle for Leyte Gulf, October 25, 1944. Undaunted by intense hostile anti-aircraft fire, Underwood, participated in a daring strike against major units of the Japanese Fleet, courageously performing his duties, contributed materially to the infliction of extensive damage on the enemy by his squadron. His skill and devotion to duty reflect the highest credit upon Underwood and the United States Naval Service.”
From an additional citation:
“For distinguishing himself by heroism and extraordinary achievement while participating in an aerial flight as an air-crewman in a carrier-based torpedo aircraft, in a strike against major units of a task force of the enemy fleet in the vicinity of the Philippine Islands on 25 October 1944. He courageously performed his duties in the face of intense anti-aircraft fire, and his skill as an aircrewman contributed materially to the success of the overwhelming attacks against the enemy fleet by this Task Force. At all times his coolness, skill, and courage were inspiring and in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.”
After the War, John Underwood returned to the US. He lives in Maryland and has been invited many times locally to tell his war story to history groups, civic groups, and college-high school Junior ROTC courses and history classes.