Last Salute Military Funeral Honor Guard held its annual cocktail reception fundraiser at the beautiful Smithville Inn in Galloway on Thursday October 13th 2016. The event was well attended by ardent supporters and local dignitaries.
Both Galloway Mayor Don Purdy and Deputy Mayor Tony Coppola were in attendance and the Mayor had the honor of firing the “Jaime Lee”, the Civil War cannon used by Last Salute for Military Funerals and Veterans Events.
The Smithville Inn put out a great selection of food for the event and very generously covered the expense as a donation. Last Salute would also like to thank Malcom & Joanne Heckman, Brad Tucker and John Zarych for their strong support.
Last Salute presented an award to Parsel’s Funeral Home owners, Steve and Heather Matis, for their ongoing support. They have been indispensable in their availability and assistance.
We would like to thank everyone for their help and support through donations and physical help. Island Automotive in Tuckerton keeps all our military vehicles rolling often at no charge, Master Craftsman Steve Amadio, was instrumental in the building of our cannon carriage and prayer card box, Jim & Rebecca Bozarth for the use of their property for storage and training, and of course all the honor guard members who give up so much time to dedicate themselves to providing services for our fallen and their families.
Last Salute Military Funeral Honor Guard services are all free and is fully staffed by volunteers. We depend on the support of the community to continue our mission of providing Military Funeral Honors.
The recently removed old Assumption Church on the White Horse Pike served the Galloway community for almost 100 years. It was the site of countless weddings, christenings, funerals and services. In our effort to preserve Galloway history and to conserve our communities enduring intrinsic memories, we asked to have some of the interior wood salvaged from the old church. Luckily, Father Nick Dudo and Joe Picardi, a representative of the church not only had preserved some of the wood but were kind enough to share it with us. Ray Ring from the church met us to make the wood available. The church has also saved part of the steeple, the cross and the cornerstone. We felt that using the wood to build items for our Military Funeral Honor Guard, “Last Salute”, would be a great way to repurpose and preserve something of such sentimental value. We have built two wonderful and unique pieces from the wood so far. First, we needed to build a stand for our recently acquired funeral bell. This large solid brass bell required a very sturdy stand that could be moved from one location to another frequently so in addition to framing lumber, we used the church wood as ornamental additions in the shape of big stars along the top beams. The bell stand turned out beautifully and is used at veterans funerals as well as other community events. The stand was built by Galloway Patriot publisher Chuck Knutson and Dale Kiminsky.
The second piece is a box used to hold the prayer cards which we collect. Each time we preform a military funeral ceremony, we take a prayer card that is generally made as a remembrance. All of these cards are now stored in the newly constructed box. They travel to each funeral for which we conduct services and a new card is added. The box pictured here was built by Chuck Knutson and master craftsman Steve Amadio who was also instrumental in the construction of our Civil War cannon the “Jaime Lee”. Upon the top of the box, the official “Last Salute” prayer has been carved. Last Salute and the VFW Post 9462 Honor Guard have participated in 88 events so far this year. Most of these have been funeral services provided at no charge to the families of fallen heroes. Last Salute is an all volunteer organization that does not charge for any services but does need the communities help to keep providing these services. If you would like to help, please attend the Last Salute Cocktail Reception and fundraiser at the Smithville Inn on October 13th at 6pm. You can purchase tickets ahead of time at www.LastSalute.US. If you are unable to attend, you may also make donations at our site.
On September 23, 2016 the New Jersey Run For The Fallen ran through Galloway. The run starts in Cape May Point and goes all the way to the Vietnam Memorial in Holmdel. The run stops at multiple locations along the way designated, “Hero Markers” to meet with supporters and “Gold Star” mothers. Galloway’s Hero Marker is numbered “214”. The marker is located at Galloway’s Veterans Park on route 9.
As the run passed through Galloway the runners all stopped and hugged Gold Star mother Laura Iorio. Laura lost her son, Bradley, an Absegami Graduate, to the war on terrorism. Bradley was in the Army attached to Special Troops Battalion, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division out of Ft. Bliss Texas. Bradley died May 29th 2009 from injuries sustained in Iraq.
On hand for the stop were Galloway’s Mayor, Don Purdy, Deputy Mayor, Tony Coppola and Commander of the Marine Corps Veterans Direct Action Team and Publisher of the Galloway Patriot, Chuck Knutson who held the American Flag as the runners addressed Laura Iorio.
On Saturday September 17, 2016, the town of Galloway held its sixteenth annual Salute to Veterans ceremony and barbeque. Veterans from all over Galloway gathered at the Veteran’s Memorial Park, Glen by the Bay, for a ceremony to honor them for their service as well as to honor those who gave the ultimate sacrifice. Master of ceremonies Steve Stokes, from the Galloway Veterans Advisory Board welcomed everyone by introducing the people who made this day happen. Galloway Veterans Advisory Board members Ike Rucker, Chairman, Tony Coppola Jr., Councilman, Robert Maldonado, Councilman, Timothy Meadows Sr., Councilman, Russell Konrady, Lenny Long, Justin Vidal, Galloway Community Services Staff Beth Stasuk, Jennifer DiLuzio and Jennifer Hahn, The Mayor Don Purdy, Councilmans Frank Gargione, Tony DiPietro, and Rich Clute. The heart felt ceremony began with Absecon VFW Post 9462 honor guard posting the colors and the Boy Scouts of Galloway and Smithville leading the pledge of allegiance. When the National Anthem sung by Jim Craine of Smithville began, from the oldest to the youngest stood in honor. Guest speaker, Marco Polo Smigliani, a four-time recipient of the Purple Heart, a United States Marine, A Veterans Advocate and an American Patriot spoke about what it means to be an American to him, Marco who came from a small town in Italy, came to America and served proudly in the Marine Corps for this great nation. Marco spoke about all walks of life from all parts of the world who come to the United States and make up who and what Americans are, a diverse group of people who come together and create this great nation, the crowd was emotionally moved by a strong from the heart speech written by himself and his wife. The wreath presentation by Galloway Township Middle School Student council commenced and the Absegami High School Choir lead by director, Mrs. Cheryl Breitzman sang a beautiful patriotic song. The Choir attends every event in Galloway and performs from the heart and it shows in their young eyes the pride they have for our township, their school, their country and those who fight and have fought for their freedoms. We are so proud and pleased to have such wonderful young people represent our community at these special events.
Honors were bestowed upon all the Veterans in attendance and those who were there in spirit by Rolling Thunder presentation Paul Berenotto, President of the Rolling Thunder Ch4 of NJ, when he spoke these words: “The table is round to show our everlasting concern for our missing soldiers. The tablecloth is white, symbolizing the purity of their motives when answering their country’s call to duty. The single red rose, in the vase, signifies the blood they had shed to ensure the freedom of our beloved United States of America. The red ribbon tied so prominently on the base is reminiscent of the red ribbon worn upon the lapels and breast of thousands who bore witness to their unyielding determination to demand a proper accounting of our missing. A slice of lemon, on the bread plate is to remind us of the bitter fate of those captured and missing in foreign land. A pinch of salt, symbolizes the tears endured by those missing and their families seeking answers. The bible represents the strength gained through faith to sustain those lost from our country, founded as One Nation Under GOD. The Candle is reminiscent of the light of hope, which lives in our hearts to illuminate their way home, away from their captors, by and into the open arms of a grateful nation. The glass, are inverted, they cannot toast with us today. The chairs, are empty, they are not here. Remember ALL, you who served with them and called them comrades, who depended upon their might and aid and relied upon them. Those whose freedom they fought for, Remember them for surely, they have not forsaken you”.
Without a dry eye, the crowd was directed to the members of Last Salute Military Funeral Honor Guard of VFW Post 9462 for the rendering of military honors. Honors began with Last Salute Sergeant at Arm Chuck Knutson, ordering the firing of the cannon “The Jaime Lee” by 177th Fighter Wing Colonel Daniel Mitola, Staff Judge Advocate. The Last Salute bell rang three times and the VFW Post 9462 Honor Guard fired three volleys followed by the beautiful sound of Heather Berchtold’s playing Taps. Sergeant at Arms Chuck Knutson of Galloway along with Lance Corporal Kyle Ragland of Atlantic City, performed the final rendering of military honors, as the crowd stood perfectly silent, Last Salute unfolded a flag presented it to the crowd, refolded it, placed it upon the memorial, and rendered the final Last Salute. Veterans in the crowd were standing at attention and a sense of pride overwhelmed their faces as they remember those they served with who did not come home.
The conclusion of the ceremony was truly a pull at your heartstring moment. The Veterans Advisory Board invited the Veterans and their families to attend the wonderful spread of food prepared by Chef Joe DiLuzio and the Galloway Community Services Staff, Beth Stasuk, Jennifer DiLuzio, Jennifer Hahn and all of their volunteers.
50 MORE PHOTOS ADDED ON WEDNESDAY 9-14-2016 PLEASE TELL EVERYONE THAT ALREADY LOOKED!!!!!!!!
Galloway’s 9-11 Memorial Event stirred emotions from the very start this year. This being the 15th anniversary of one the most tragic attacks in our Nation’s history, added even more solemnness to the ceremony. Galloway Fire Chief Amor “Skip” Portale was visibly shaken as he spoke of the tragedy. He and his department of dedicated fire fighters stood in full dress uniform on this day of remembrance. They reflected upon the nation’s loss as the “Four Fives” rang from the bell, a traditional bell signal used to honor a fallen fire fighter.
Galloway’s very sharp Police Honor Guard posted the colors as Boy Scout troop 634 led the assembled crowd in the Pledge of Allegiance. Howard, Donna Marie and Heather Berchtold sang our National Anthem and then the speakers made their remarks. The guest speaker, Brandon Wise, of the “Salvation Army” spoke of his experiences at Ground Zero.
The Absegami High School Choir led by Cheryl Breitzman sang beautifully as usual. The Atlantic City Fire Department Sandpiper Drum and Bugle performed multiple moving bagpipe driven instrumentals.
The Wreath ceremony included the children of first responders, Cayla and Madison Kirby of the Galloway Fire Department, Easton and Emmalene Vernon, of the Galloway Police Department, Dakota Gunsert and Keaden Cantz of Galloway’s Ambulance Squad and Connor Morrissey with Alexandra Hughes.
Anna Jezycki “Mrs. J”, who lost her niece on 9-11 fired a single volley from the “Jaime Lee”, the Galloway Patriot’s Civil War cannon to honor all those which we have lost. This was followed by Taps performed by Joe Ward and Heather Berchtold.
Following Taps, Galloway Patriot newspaper publisher Chuck Knutson who is also Sgt. at Arms of “Last Salute Military Funeral Honor Guard”, along with Marine Lcpl Kyle Ragland, folded a flag which they then presented to Anna Jezycki “Mrs. J”. They then led Mrs. J to a table where she laid the flag in front of the 9-11 cross which is made of steel from the World Trade Center. It was such an emotional moment that the flag was later given to Mrs.J as a gift. Last Salute would normally keep the flag for future use but decided that Mrs. J should keep it. Parsel’s Funeral Home in Absecon has been very generous in providing Last Salute flags for events such as this.
For those who did not attend, please view the over 50 photos below. If you have the time, visit the 9-11 Memorial at Patriot Lake.