Posted Thursday, May 23rd, 2013

Morris County’s annual Memorial Day ceremony, sponsored by the Morris County Board of Chosen Freeholders was conducted Friday, May 24.

During the ceremony, the freeholders presented the Morris County Distinguished Military Service Medal to 14 Morris County veterans in recognition of their service to our nation.

The crowd that filled the Public Meeting Room in the county Administration Building heard from the event’s keynote speaker, Mr. Hjalmar Johansson of Montville, a WW II veteran of the Army Air Force who was captured and held for five months as a German prisoner of war after his B-24 Bomber was shot down over Czechoslovakia in December 1944.

Individuals who received medals during the ceremony were Navy veterans Philip J. Gigante and John D. Callahan of Montville and John D. Reed Sr. of Hackettstown.

Army veterans receiving medals were Rod Ridolfo of Montville; William Muse of Budd Lake; Anthony F. Semiz of Hopatcong; Joseph James DeMaux of Riverdale; James Francis Nocera of Succasunna; Arnold Hokins of Franklin; and John J. Nataluk of Rockaway.

Richard Porzig of Mountain Lakes and Hunter C. Alarcon of Flanders are Marine veterans who received medals as did Charles D. Ferry II of Montville, a veteran of the Air Force.

The freeholders also awarded two posthumous medals-one to Rockaway Army veteran Eugene Bozza.  That medal was accepted by Bozza’s widow, Nancie.  A second posthumous medal was presented to Siobhan Fuller McConnell, who accepted on behalf of her son, Derek Tra McConnell, of Parsippany.

The medal is unique to Morris County and features the county seal encircled with the words, “Morris County Distinguished Military Service,” on the front. An outline of the county and the American flag is on the back of the medal, along with the words, “Morris County Freeholders Military Commemorative.”  Each medal’s striped ribbon is the color of the specific conflict during which the veteran served.

Since the freeholders began the program in 2000, more than 9,000 medals have been presented to veterans or to their family members.

More information about the Morris County Distinguished Military Service Medal program may be obtained by contacting the Morris County Veterans Service Office at 973-285-6866.