Italian Heritage in New Jersey: John Basilone

In an earlier post, I noted that Italian immigrants and Americans of Italian descent made up approximately 10% of the entire fighting force during World War II; more than any other ethnicity. Despite Italian immigrants kept under surveillance and some put in containment camps, they volunteered by the thousands to fight against their Motherland.

One such great child of Italian immigrants was John Basilone from Raritan, New Jersey. One of 10 children, Basilone was born in Buffalo, New York in 1916. He grew up in Raritan. At age 15 he dropped out of school to work locally for a short time before joining the military.

Staff Sergeant John Basilone
Source: Wikipedia

He first enlisted in the Army in July 1934 and completed his three-year enlistment with service in the Philippines. Basilone was initially assigned to the 16th Infantry at Fort Jay, New York, before being discharged for a day, reenlisting, and being assigned to the 31st Infantry.

After his discharge from the Army, he again worked locally for a short period of time; this time as a truck driver. He wanted to return to Manilla and serve once again, so he reenlisted; this time as a Marine.

He went to recruit training at Parris Island, followed by training at Marine Corps Base Quantico and New River. The Marines sent him to Guantánamo Bay for his next assignment and then to Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands as a member of “D” Company, 1st Battalion, 7th Marines, 1st Marine Division.

In 1943, he returned to the United States to help with the War Bond effort. He was highlighted in Life and Movietone News. His hometown of Raritan had a parade in his honor. He helped raise money for the War effort.

While he appreciated all the accolades, he really wanted to be back fighting for his country. He requested a return to active duty multiple times. He was offered a commission, which he turned down, and was later offered an assignment as an instructor, but refused this as well. When he requested again to return to the war, the request was approved. He left for Camp Pendleton, California, for training on December 27. On July 3, 1944, he reenlisted in the Marine Corps.

After his request to return to the fleet was approved, Basilone was assigned to “C” Company, 1st Battalion, 27th Marine Regiment, 5th Marine Division. On February 19, 1945, the first day of the invasion of Iwo Jima, he was serving as a machine gun section leader on Red Beach II. With his unit pinned down, Basilone made his way around the side of the Japanese positions until he was directly on top of the blockhouse. He then attacked with grenades and demolitions, single-handedly destroying the entire strong point and its defending garrison. He continued to fight alongside service members until the very end. It is believed he was killed by a burst of small arms fire.

His actions helped Marines penetrate the Japanese defense and get off the landing beach during the critical early stages of the invasion. Basilone was posthumously awarded the Marine Corps’ second-highest decoration for valor, the Navy Cross, for extraordinary heroism during the battle of Iwo Jima.

He was the only enlisted Marine to receive both the Navy Cross and the Medal of Honor in World War II. Two United States Navy destroyers bear his name.

He was buried at Arlington National Cemetery, in Arlington, Virginia. He left behind his wife, Lena Mae Riggi, who was a sergeant in the Marine Corps Women’s Reserve during World War II. They met while he was stationed at Camp Pendleton.

Basilone made America proud, especially at a time when the country needed heroes. He stood up to be counted in the new homeland of his family. He made not just his country proud, but New Jersey proud, as well as those of us who count ourselves among the 1.5 million New Jerseyans of Italian descent proud. We owe him a debt of gratitude that can never be repaid.

Farmland Preserved in Bedminster

This announcement was made on the New Jersey Conservation Website. The residents of New Jersey should be thankful to the ongoing work by the New Jersey Conservation Foundation and the Lamington Conservancy. They are ensuring our open spaces are available for generations to come.

Two beautiful farmland properties along the Black River, totaling nearly 125 acres, have been permanently preserved by New Jersey Conservation Foundation and its partners.

“Preserving these two properties protects agriculture, water quality and Bedminster’s rural character and scenic beauty,” said Michele S. Byers, executive director of New Jersey Conservation Foundation. “We’re very grateful to our many preservation partners for making this possible.”

Scully-Peretsman Farm

Robert Scully and Nancy Peretsman donated a conservation easement on 75 acres along Black River Road to Bedminster Township in December, ensuring that it will remain farmland forever. The couple wanted to make sure that the farm’s agricultural heritage and rich and productive soils were protected.

“On behalf of Bedminster Township, I extend our gratitude to Bob and Nancy for their commitment to farmland preservation and to ensuring that the rural character of the Pottersville neighborhood will be maintained for future generations,” said Mayor Larry Jacobs. “I also want to thank the New Jersey Conservation Foundation for guiding us through the process and reaching an arrangement that we are all proud of.”

The farm is located just south of Pottersville village, and includes historic red barns housing 53 Katahdin ewes. The scenic Axle Brook runs along the southern property edge, just before merging with the Black River, also known as the Lamington River.

Preserving this farm adds to a large swath of preserved land in the community. To the north and south are other large preserved farms, and to the west is a mile of preserved riverfront open space owned by Bedminster Township. To the east is the 170-acre Fairview Farm Wildlife Preserve, headquarters of the nonprofit Raritan Headwaters Association.

The conservation easement significantly restricts new building on the farm, but allows a small “exception area” for one house and outbuildings in the future.

Chubb Property

The second newly-preserved property, 49 acres on Rattlesnake Bridge Road, was purchased for $1.67 million from the Chubb Insurance Company. The property has river frontage on one side and Interstate 78 on another side. It is currently farmed for corn and hay.

The nonprofit Lamington Conservancy initially secured funding to purchase the development rights on the property, but the owner wanted to sell it outright. New Jersey Conservation Foundation stepped in and bought the farmland, while the Lamington Conservancy simultaneously purchased the development rights and transferred them to Somerset County. Funding was provided by the State Agriculture Development Committee, Somerset County and the New Jersey Highlands Council.

“It’s a good chunk of land,” said Bob Holtaway, president of the Lamington Conservancy and a former Bedminster mayor. “This transaction sews up the northwest corner of the Interstate 78 interchange and keeps it agricultural, so all is well.”

Holtaway noted that land on the other three corners of the Rattlesnake Bridge Road-Interstate 78 interchange were preserved earlier, so the area will never be developed.

The land was purchased for commercial development about 30 years ago by Chubb’s real estate arm, the Bellemead Development Corp.

The Chubb property is surrounded by preserved farmland and open space. It is across the street from the Buffalo Country LLC farm, also known as Red Tail Farm; and across the river from the Emmet and Whitman farms in Tewksbury Township. On the other side of I-78 is the preserved Lana Lobell horse farm and hundreds of acres of parkland owned by Somerset County.

The property is about 80 percent farmed, and more than half of its soils are “prime” or “statewide,” the two highest classifications of soil quality. The southwest portion of property is wooded and abuts the river.

“The preservation of the Chubb property is a wonderful example of the collaborative efforts we develop with other organizations in preserving property,” said New Jersey Agriculture Secretary Douglas Fisher. “The State Agriculture Development Committee and other groups are proud to have worked on this important project.”

“Farmland is a defining feature in the character of the Highlands region,” said Lisa J. Plevin, Executive Director of the New Jersey Highlands Council. “We were pleased to work in partnership with other organizations on this preservation project that will protect abundant agricultural resources.”

“Somerset County is constantly striving to preserve important pieces of our agricultural community to ensure that this rich heritage is around for generations to come,” said Freeholder Melonie Marano, planning liaison. “We were happy to collaborate with the state, the New Jersey Conservation Foundation and other partner agencies to secure this property for the benefit of our community.”

About New Jersey Conservation Foundation

New Jersey Conservation Foundation is a private non-profit organization whose mission is to preserve land and natural resources throughout New Jersey for the benefit of all. Since its inception in 1960, New Jersey Conservation has protected 125,000 acres of open space, farmland and parks. For more information about New Jersey Conservation Foundation and its programs and preserves, visit http://www.njconservation.org or call 1-888-LANDSAVE (1-888-526-3728).

About the Lamington Conservancy

The Lamington Conservancy is a non-profit land conservation organization created in 1999 to assist landowners in protecting and preserving their open, agricultural land in the Lamington River Valley. The Conservancy is committed to safeguarding the rural character and open countryside of this unique area. We promote farmland preservation and the protection of the area’s natural and historic resources. In conjunction with local land trusts and local and state governments, the Conservancy helps landowners select the land conservation program which best suits their needs and assists them throughout the process.

Memorial Day Events in New Jersey

MemorialDayMemorial Day – generally considered the unofficial kick-off to summer, many attend BBQs or head down the shore. Others look to buy a new car. Well, it is important to remember the real reason we can enjoy a long weekend – those who gave their lives for this great country.

I wanted to provide some opportunities to remember those brave men and women around New Jersey. I hope you will consider attending an event in your area.

MAHWAH
“Serving God & Country: A Memorial Day Salute to Our Heroes,” outdoor Mass hosted by Archdiocese of Newark, 11 a.m. Monday, Maryrest Cemetery and Mausoleum, 770 Darlington Ave. rcancem.org or (888) 489-9095.

BELLEVILLE (I used to participate in the Belleville events when I was in the high school marching band)
Veterans Memorial Day Services, 9 a.m. service Monday at Glendale Cemetery, followed by 9:30 a.m. wreath tossing at Rutgers Street Bridge, 10 a.m. service at Rutgers Street Church Cemetery, 10:30 a.m. service at Belleville Town Hall, and concluding with ceremony at Belleville Veterans Memorial. bellevillenj.org or (973) 450-3300.

GLEN RIDGE
Memorial Day Parade and Service, march beginning 11 a.m. Monday at Sherman Avenue and Baldwin Street and proceeding to the memorial in front of Ridgewood Avenue School for a traditional service followed by town picnic at the train station with food, amusements and live music; in event of rain, the service will be in the school auditorium. (973) 680-4710.

SOUTH ORANGE
Memorial Day Service, observance 10:30 a.m. Monday at Memorial Rock near the duck pond, 10:30 a.m. Monday, Meadowland Park, North Ridgewood Road and Mead Street. (973) 378-7754.

WOODBURY
In addition to its regular visits to Woodbury’s war memorials, American Legion Post 133 will, along with the city and county, host a candlelight vigil at 7 p.m. on Sunday, May 25, in honor of New Jersey’s POW/MIA troops in Vietnam.

The vigil will also include “missing man” and wreath ceremonies, as well as a ringing bell for the name of each missing soldier. It will take place outside the Woodbury American Legion, at 1018 Washington Ave.

GLASSBORO
The annual Memorial Day parade will begin at 10 a.m. at the intersection of Lehigh Road and University Boulevard, then proceed onto High Street toward borough hall.

The annual ceremony will follow the parade at the Veterans Memorial Monument, adjacent to the firehouse on High Street, at noon. New Jersey Gold Star Mothers President Judi Trapper, of Atco, will be the guest speaker.

BAYONNE
A Memorial Day service will take place on Sunday at 10:45 a.m. at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church, 39 E. 22nd St. After the service, ceremonies will be held in front of the memorial at Stephen R. Gregg/Bayonne County Park.

Following a noon Mass at St. Henry Church, 645 Avenue C, all the veterans’ monuments on First Street will be decorated at 1:30 p.m.

Our Lady of the Assumption Roman Catholic Church, 91 West 23rd St., will hold a Mass to commemorate the deceased members of the Catholic War Veterans Post 1612 on Monday at 8 a.m.

The Bayonne Memorial Day parade will take place on Monday beginning with a ceremony at 10 a.m. at Fifth and Dodge streets. The parade will march up Broadway to 32nd Street. Immediately following, attendees will hold a commemoration at the American Legion Post, 683 Broadway.

WEEHAWKEN
The Weehawken Memorial Day parade on Monday will begin at Gregory and Highpoint avenues at 9:30 a.m. The parade will head through town and end at the Soldiers and Sailors Monument, located between El Dorado and Hudson Place on Boulevard East, where a ceremony will take place at 11 a.m.

EWING
The Ewing Township Patriotic Committee will conduct its Memorial Day ceremony at Maj. Gen. Betor Veterans Memorial Park at 11 a.m. The program will be conducted by retired Air Force Brig. Gen. Robert Dutko, assisted by Lt. Col. Robert Schofield and Chief Warrant Officer Kenneth Langer. Ewing police Sgt. David LaBaw will play bagpipes along with the Ewing Township Police firing detail, color guards from the Veteran of Foreign Wars Post 7298, American Legion Post 314 and the New Jersey National Guard and a Dove release by Karen Cox. Pavers will be dedicated at the U.S. Air Force Memorial at the end of the ceremony.

MANALAPAN
Memorial Day Parade and Observances, march beginning 2 p.m. Monday at the Manalapan Municipal Complex and traveling down Route 522 (Tennent Avenue) to Englishtown, turning right on Main Street and ending at the American Legion Post 434, 11 Sanford St. (732) 446-9872.

BOONTON
Memorial Day Services, 11 a.m. Monday, Boonton Town Hall, Community Room, Washington Street. boonton.org or (973) 402-7387.

DENVILLE
Memorial Day Parade, marching 10 a.m. Monday from Menaugh Avenue and East Main Street to Denville Cemetery for services; in case of rain, services only will be held at 10 a.m. at town hall. thedenvillehub.com or (201) 736-2540.

BARNEGAT LIGHT
Memorial Day Ceremony, service featuring the Emerald Society Bagpipe Band, 6 p.m. Sunday, Barnegat Lighthouse State Park, Broadway off Long Beach Boulevard. stateparks.com/barnegat_lighthouse.html or (609) 494-2016.

LITTLE EGG HARBOR
Memorial Day Parade, beginning 10 a.m. Monday on Radio Road, followed by ceremonies at the Pulaski Monument. leht.com or (609) 296-7241, ext. 221.

TOMS RIVER
Memorial Day Parade and Ceremony, march 9:30 a.m. Monday hosted by American Legion Post 129, proceeding from Office Lounge south on Main Street, left on Washington Street and concluding with ceremony in front of town hall. tomsrivertownship.com or (732) 255-9250.

Hopatcong
Memorial Day Parade, beginning10 a.m. Saturday at borough hall, 111 River Styx Road, and ending at Veteran’s Park off Flora Avenue for ceremonies. hopatcong.org or (973) 770-1200.

Hackettstown
Memorial Day Parade and Ceremony, march beginning 9:30 a.m. Monday near post office on Washington Street and continuing to Grand Avenue and Main Street, ending at Union Cemetery on Mountain Avenue, with services by the American Legion at Union Cemetery and reception at the post home on Willow Grove Street. hackettstown.net or (908) 850-5004.

If there is an event in your area that is not listed, please add it in the comments section or my Facebook page. Thank you for remembering our vets who gave their all!

The Fly Fishing Show: Somerset, NJ

One of the things I love about New Jersey is the diversity of activities you can do here. You can swim in the Atlantic. You can hike part of the Appalachian Trail. You can gamble in Atlantic City. You can experience a variety of different cultural delights in Newark.

Fly Fishing ShowWell one of my favorite activities is fly fishing. My husband and I have a fly fishing instruction business where we teach people the art of fly casting and fly tying. Well, if you are into fly fishing, this weekend is the event to end all events – The Fly Fishing Show in Somerset.

You can find anything and everything related to fly fishing at this event. There are plenty of classes, lectures and casting demonstrations that are included in your show entry fee. You can learn about fly fishing just about anywhere in the world and try out more rods than you could ever imagine.

This post is also a little self-serving. My husband and I will be there talking about fly casting and giving lectures. If you would like to stop by and say hi, we will be at the Shu-Fly booth Friday and Saturday. We are also giving our presentation on tactics for stillwater fishing Friday and Saturday.

If you decide to attend, I hope you stop by!

Shop Small in New Jersey this Weekend

Small Business SaturdayWhile many are focused on Black Friday and the big box stores, what I am really excited about is Small Business Saturday. Depending on the study and the area, anywhere fom 50% to 80% of money spent stays right in that local community. Many towns are planning special events this upcoming Saturday. Here are a few:

Hackettstown: They are extending Small Business Saturday to Small Business Week! Some of the events include a Luce Decor Holiday Open House, Hackettstown Historical Society is having a special event on December 6th from 5:00 p.m. until 9:00 p.m., the Old Souk Trading Company Semi-Annual Sale takes place from Saturday, Nov. 30 to Friday, Dec. 6.
Collingswood: Earthen Treasures will be at the Art Within Reach Event December 6-8, Grooveground is offering special deals that include extra gift cards when you purchase a gift card. Blue Moon Premiun Oil & Vinegar is giving a $5 off a “make-your-own” sampler. There are also plenty of specials at stores for the kids like Duck Duck Goods and ExtraordinaryEd. You can find the complete list at the Collingswood Patch.
Denville: The town of Denville starts on Friday with plenty of activities, including a tree lighting, story time with Mrs. Claus, and choirs from the local schools.
Middlesex, Union and Somerset Counties: the Tri-County Chamber of Commerce will host its first “Shop Small Business Saturday” at the Somerville Elks Lodge located at 375 Union Ave. (Route 28) Bridgewater, NJ 08807.  The show will have a variety of vendors offering unique boutique-like items and services as well as merchandise from consultants for larger companies.
Morristown: The Morristown Patch is lending a hand to Morristown’s Small Business Saturday by offering free parking when you come to “shop small.”

These are just a few of the events going on around the state. Know of others? Add to the comments section below. Or better yet, post them on my Facebook page! And make sure to shop small this weekend!

New Jersey and Fly Fishing – Perfect Together!

New Jersey is home to some wonderful opportunities to enjoy the outdoors. Whether you are on the Big Flatbrook in Sussex County or fishing out of the Atlantic Highlands, there is a fishing experience available regardless of your ability level or species interest. New Jersey has approximately 8,600 miles of streams and rivers, over 400 public ponds, lakes, and reservoirs, 83 miles of bayshores, and 127 miles of Atlantic coastline. Talk about plenty of angling opportunities!

This weekend is a great event in the Garden State if you are a fan of fly fishing. The International Fly Tying Symposium brings the best of the best from all over the world to New Jersey – yes, New Jersey. The expo floor is at the Garden State Exhibit Center in Somerset and lectures and classes are held next door at the Double Tree Hotel.

This is one of my favorite weekends of the year. Why you might ask? My husband I get to see our angling friends from all over the world – right in our own backyard. We are fly fishing instructors and love to help people get started in fly fishing or learn more about all the great fishing opportunities in our state.

If you decide to check out the show, we will be at the Shu-Fly booth. Make sure to stop by and say hi and ask us about all the great fishing opportunities you can find in New Jersey!