Montgomery Township’s new designation as a “Purple Heart Community” was acknowledged with a public ceremony at the Township building on Tuesday, September 19th.
Montgomery Mayor Ed Trzaska, Administrator Donato Nieman, and Township Clerk Donna Kukla received the honor on behalf of Montgomery after Township Clerk Donna Kukla read a resolution of acceptance.
General Richard Montgomery
Montgomery Township's new designation as a "Purple Heart Township" was marked with a public ceremony at the municipal building Tuesday, September 19th. This designation recognizes a township's support for the sacrifice of military members of a community wounded or killed while serving the nation in a time of war.
Speakers presented before an overflowing courtroom. Representatives from the Military Order of the Purple Heart; Somerset County Veterans Services; Rolling Thunder, Inc., a national veterans support group; the Montgomery Township Veterans Memorial Committee; boy scouts and leaders, and many local dignitaries came out to honor veterans and Montgomery's Purple Heart recipients in particular.
Ted Dima, Senior Vice Commander Chapter 27 of the Military Order of the Purple Heart presented the Township with a plaque signifying its new status, shared by only nine towns or counties in New Jersey. Montgomery Mayor Ed Trzaska, Administrator Donato Nieman, and Township Clerk Donna Kukla received the honor on behalf of Montgomery after Township Clerk Donna Kukla read a resolution of acceptance.
“Tonight was a special night for Montgomery. I am proud to be part of our community for many reasons, and on top of the list is how we embrace, honor, and recognize our veterans. God bless our veterans and those that earned the Purple Heart while protecting our freedom,” said Montgomery Mayor Ed Trzaska.
The presentation of the colors and pledge of allegiance was led by Boy Scouts from Troop 46.
The opening invocation was given by Pastor Anthony GodLefski, Montgomery United Methodist Church.
Montgomery Township's namesake - General Richard Montgomery - Killed in Action 12.31.1775 - was remembered as were All 8 of those Killed-in-Action
from Montgomery Township:
John A Cray - KIA Civil War
James Cray - KIA Civil War
Arthur S Dixon - KIA WWI
Charles Rospopa - KIA WWII
George L Brown - KIA WWII
Michael Malko - KIA WWII
SP4 Stephen H Warner - KIA Vietnam War
LT. Ashley Henderson-Huff - KIA Operation Iraqi Freedom
A moment of silence was observed in the memory of these brave soldiers and ‘Taps’ was played by Montgomery High School Marching Band bugler Mati Ng.
Brigadier General Michael L. Cunniff, Adjutant General of the New Jersey Army and Air National Guard, gave the keynote speech and also presented NJ Medals of Distinguished Service awarded posthumously, for two Purple Heart recipients from Montgomery.
Special plaques were also presented by the Military Order of the Purple Heart to honor the memories of both Lt. Ashley Henderson-Huff, a military police officer, who was killed in Iraq in 2006, and SP4 Stephen H. Warner, a young war correspondent killed in action in Vietnam. Both of these brave soldiers hailed from Montgomery. Ashley attended Montgomery High School while Stephen was a 1964 graduate of Princeton High School, where all Montgomery students attended at that time.
Accepting the NJ Distinguished Service plaque on behalf of 1st Lt. Huff’s family, who now live in another state, was MVMC Chair Mike Maloney.
Frank & Nancy Tetz, long-time friends of the Warner Family, accepted the NJ Distinguished Service Medal for the family of SP4 Stephen H. Warner.
Ted Dima, Chapter 27 Military Order of the Purple Heart
Accepting the Purple Heart plaque on behalf of 1st Lt. Huff’s family, was Superintendent of Montgomery Twp. Schools Nancy Gartenberg.
This event occurred on the 11th anniversary of Ashley Henderson-Huff’s death in Iraq. The United States military had previously awarded First Lt. Huff the National Defense Service Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal and the Army Service Ribbon. She was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star, Purple Heart and the Combat Action Badge..
A new street sign, designed by Rolling Thunder, was unveiled which will be placed along the entranceway to Montgomery High School, renaming it “1st Lt. Ashley Henderson-Huff Memorial Drive" on December 19th, Ashley's birthday.
Nancy Gartenberg, Superintendent of the Montgomery Twp. School District, accepted two Purple Heart plaques for 1st Lt. Huff and SP4 Warner. She stated, “Ashley and Stephen are a source of pride for our school community. They represent those characteristics important to as we strive to educate all of our students to be ethical and responsible citizens. We look forward to naming Lt. Ashley Henderson-Huff Drive.”
All were reminded that of that evening, 82,476 service members
were officially missing and unaccounted for.
"We honor and remember the presumed 82,476 Purple Heart medals
never to be seen or touched..."
Officials attending included NJ State Senator Kip Bateman, Somerset County Freeholder Mark Caliguire, Somerset County Director of Veteran Services Peter Niemiec, Superintendent of Montgomery Twp. Township Committee member Patricia Graham, Planning Board Chairman David Cheskis, former Mayor Don Matthews (MVMC), Former Administrator Pete Rayner (MVMC). Also in attendance were Richard Onderko, Mayor of Manville, and Andrea Bierwirth, Manville Administrator.