Posted Wednesday, May 23rd, 2012

The Morris County Freeholders on May 23 honored 13 veterans for their military and their community service during Morris County’s annual Memorial Day ceremony on the front lawn of the Morris County Courthouse in Morristown.

Several hundred people watched as the freeholders presented the 13 veterans with the county’s Distinguished Military Service Medal.

Those in attendance also heard from Mrs. Landi Simone of Montville, whose son, Marine Lance Corporal Adrian Simone, was seriously injured last year while serving in Afghanistan.

Lance Corporal Simone was caught in the explosion of an Improvised Explosive Device, and his most severe injuries necessitated the amputation of the lower portion of his legs up to the knees.

Mrs. Simone told the crowd that her son has recovered and has been fitted with prosthetics. She said he has refused to take medical retirement and remains an active marine who is stationed back at the 2nd Marine Division in North Carolina.

The veterans who received the Morris County Distinguished Military service medal were Richard H. Barry of Hackettstown; William S. Blaher of Flemington; Keith G. Byard of Chatham; Lieutenant Colonel Richard W. Eastman, Jr., of Morristown; Sgt. Kevin Hilton of Florham Park; Joseph Leal of Morris Plains; Major Vinson Morris of Picatinny Arsenal; Lawrence E. Oppel of Long Valley; James B. Smith of Dover; Captain Jermaine Dunham, Staff Sergeant David Stracener, Staff Sergeant Fredrick J. Wiedenmann and Lieutenant Colonel Charles H. Koehler of Picatinny Arsenal.

Each of the veterans was recognized by the freeholders for his service to the nation and his continued service as a volunteer with local organizations that assist other veterans and their families.

The freeholders started the recognition program in 1999, and have since presented more than 9,000 medals to veterans who have served during conflicts from World War II to today’s war against terrorism.

To be eligible, a veteran may be a current or former Morris County resident, but did not have to live in the county during his or her time of active duty. A veteran must have received an honorable discharge, and discharge papers are required.

Veterans or their family members must register with the Morris County Department of Human Services at 973-285-6866.