VFW Post 3020 again answers the call to perform rites at Riverton War Memorial

Riverton War Memorial

Riverton War Memorial

It was an honor again to be at Riverton’s Annual Memorial Day Weekend Service at the Riverton War Memorial on Sunday, May 25.  

The Military & Veterans Affairs Committee added three names to the memorial: Norman E. Harris – Air Force, William A. Kupper – Army, Martin L. Schlindwein – Army.

Members of VFW Post 3020 make preparations for the ceremony.

Members of VFW Post 3020 make preparations for the ceremony.

The steadfast team of Veterans and Auxiliary Supporters from VFW Post 3020  who volunteer their time to perform Memorial Ritual Services once again carried out honor guard duties.

On this weekend traditionally seen as the beginning of summer, many others were probably enjoying picnics, sports events and family gatherings this beautiful Sunday even as these dedicated veterans executed their ceremonial duties here – Riverton being only one of eleven such services they would do that day.

MemDay2014_05The extraordinary self-sacrifice, dedication, and devotion to service these veterans demonstrate are somber reminders to us all of the reason for Memorial Day.

Two years since a disastrous fire destroyed their old post building at 1125 South Fairview Street in Delran, VFW Post 3020 will reopen its doors Sunday, June 8, 2014, with a Grand Opening and Ribbon Cutting as they celebrate having a home again and kick off their 80th Anniversary fundraising campaign.

Today’s function was one of many generously performed year-round by members of Post 3020.

The commitment of these brothers-in-arms to their fellow veterans and area communities is a year-round concern as they provide the final military salute for deceased veterans, lay wreaths at cemeteries, serve as honor guard at Riverton’s Memorial Day and Veterans Day ceremonies, support veterans and their families, welcome soldiers returning home from deployment, and even march in Riverton’s July Fourth Parade.

Please show all veterans that we appreciate their service and perhaps thank the members of Post 3020 for their efforts in performing this community service year after year.


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– John McCormick, Memorial Day 2014




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Honor Roll to add six names with May 25th Memorial Day ceremony

War Memorial 2012

War Memorial 2012

The story of how Riverton’s War Memorial on Main Street came to be has been told on these pages before here and here. Over the years many persons have helped in restoration and beautification efforts. As a result, it is a beautiful and solemn place that invites us to acknowledge the great service and sacrifice paid by our military veterans to keep our freedoms.

Vintage Decoration Day and Memorial Day postcards

Vintage Decoration Day and Memorial Day postcards

We are reminded of the words of Maj. Gen. John A. Logan Gen. Logan’s order for his posts to decorate graves in 1868 “with the choicest flowers of springtime.”

He urged:

“We should guard their graves with sacred vigilance. … Let pleasant paths invite the coming and going of reverent visitors and fond mourners.

Let no neglect, no ravages of time, testify to the present or to the coming generations that we have forgotten as a people the cost of a free and undivided republic.”

Certainly, the actions of the citizens of Riverton show they have not forgotten. Word comes from Mayor Bill Brown that the Borough’s Memorial Day Observance will take place Sunday, May 25, 2014, at 10:30 a.m. The Riverton Military & Veterans Affairs Committee will add the following names to the Veterans Honor Roll that day.

Norman E. Harris – Air Force

William A. Kupper – Army

Martin L. Schlindwein – Army

Kenneth P. Jones – Army

William Briggs – Army

George Brown – Army

We will add these names to our online Riverton Veterans Album and can include photos if anyone can help with supplying one.

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Veterans Day 2013 prompts a major revision of the Riverton Veterans Album

Vets Day 2013_05

After the November 2013 Veterans Day ceremony I set out to revise the 68 slide PowerPoint Riverton Veterans Album by incorporating newspaper clippings from the digitalized New Era newspapers that we made available online last year.

As the project grew, it crashed my computer so I split the file in two and kept going until the two totaled 163 slides – almost 300MB. Finally converted to a more digestible 53.6MB PDF, someone might actually have the leisure time to download and watch at least part of it.

The Riverton Veterans Album now includes original names from the Riverton War Memorial plus many other names of presumably Riverton military personnel culled from the old New Era newspaper articles.

Please know that the HSR does not decide what names appear on the Memorial – the Riverton Military & Veterans Affairs Committee does that. Nevertheless, The New Era, the hometown newspaper back then, certainly seemed to claim many names of service personnel not listed on the Memorial as having a Riverton pedigree.

Scanning dozens of service photos, reading hundreds of World War II era newspaper issues, and compiling that tribute to Riverton veterans gave me a new appreciation for those heroic men and women who “… answered the call to save the world from the two most powerful and ruthless military machines ever assembled, instruments of conquest in the hands of fascist maniacs… They won the war; they saved the world.”

Not my words – Tom Brokaw’s, from his superb book, The Greatest Generation.

Honor Roll Album screenshotPlease let us know what you think of Riverton’s Greatest Generation as outlined in this very much expanded Riverton Veterans Album.

As always, we encourage our readers, our greatest resource, to participate in this work in progress.

If you can add to the information listed for yourself or a family member, or point out any errors, please contact me so that I may update the presentation. I sincerely hope that we can expand the presentation even further and develop it into a useful resource. Readers, you can help achieve this by providing more pertinent details, scans, news articles, and donated items.  – John McCormick

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Committee’s efforts add another page to Betty Hahle’s “History of Our War Memorial”

Riverton Memorial logoVets Day 2013_08

The Honor Guard from Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 3020 provided a prayer, a wreath, and a rifle salute to help Riverton show veterans that we deeply appreciate the sacrifices they have made in their lives to keep our country free.

The group will have a busy week with several appearances at ceremonies in the area, notably Cinnaminson and Delran. Their dedication to “Honor the dead by helping the living” has earned them three VFW National Outstanding Community Service Awards.

at left, Bob Smyth

at left, Bob Smyth

Robert E. Smyth, Riverton Military & Veterans Affairs Committee Chairperson, and Mayor William C. Brown, Jr. officiated as  nameplates for Jeffrey R. Cole, Edward J. Lohan Jr., Frank G. Lockhart, William G. Lockhart, and Harry Watkins became part of the distinguished Honor Roll of Riverton’s military veterans.  Vets Day 2013_11

Regular readers may recall that Memorial Park was named for veterans of World War I and the Riverton War Memorial mainly records the names of those from Riverton who served in America’s armed forces during World War II.

Former Town Historian Mrs. Betty B. Hahle wrote a concise history of the War Memorial for the 2004 July Fourth Program booklet.

Vets Day 2013_14Certainly, Borough Council wrote another page of Riverton history in January 2012, when it formed the Military and Veterans Affairs Committee which made a simple change to the eligibility requirement resulting in dozens of veterans’ names from post-WWII conflicts being added to the Honor Roll.

Vets Day 2013_04Further, a number of current residents who were not living here at the time of their service found that they, too, could apply to have their names included on the Memorial.

Any present or former resident of the Borough of Riverton, New Jersey who served on active duty in the Armed Forces of the United States of America during a time of war, is eligible to have their name placed on the memorial.

at right, Peter Martucci, name added 2011;

at right, Peter Martucci, name added 2011;

Perhaps the Military & Veterans Affairs Committee has now more fully achieved its mission to honor servicemen and women from the borough.

It sends the message Bob Smyth voiced about the 2012 Vets Day 2013_10Veterans Day ceremony. It shows “…all the residents and those who have served that we are here to support current military personnel and veterans.”

It has become, as Mayor Brown imagined it in May 2012, a memorial “…dedicated to past and present heroes.”

As before, we will post a service photo of any Riverton veteran in our online  Riverton Veterans Album PDF if we can be provided a scan. Look for an update to that tribute soon to include the five names added today along with photos and other images received since the last update.

I can add names to captions here if a reader can advise me of any I have neglected. Your comments are welcome.  – John McCormick

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Riverton citizens honor veterans’ sacrifice and laud additional names to Memorial on this sacred day

Memorial Day 2013_01Memorial Day evolved from Decoration Day observances after the Civil War in which people decorated graves of soldiers who died in the conflict with flowers. Various communities claim that their ceremonies originated the ritual. After World War I tributes came to embrace honoring the dead of all of our nation’s wars. Now observed on the last Monday in May (in order to assure a three-day weekend to kick-start the summer), in Riverton, at least, the day also serves as another way to honor the military service of our Borough’s citizens by adding their names to the War Memorial.

The distinguished Honor Roll of military veterans listed on the Riverton War Memorial grew by ten names during a tribute directed by Mayor Bill Brown and Robert Smyth, Chairman of  Riverton’s Military & Veterans Affairs Committee.

Uniformed members of VFW Post 3020 and American Legion Post 146, both of Riverside, lent solemnity to the occasion with a display of colors, a wreath laying, and rifle salute. A moving prayer gave everyone a moment to remember, reflect and honor those who have given their all in service to their country.

A respectful crowd applauded for each of the ten names Robert Smyth read aloud. Mayor Brown explained that new wood plaques with metal nameplates will eventually replace the memorial’s original lists that date from 1945.

Richard N. Buckalew Theresa Buckalew James Hamlin William A. Kupper Jr.
George J. Mack Jr. Elliot Richardson III Robert E. Richardson Frank Siefert
Herman R. Trout Jr. Samuel Wargny

This update of the Honor Roll Album includes the ten names listed above, photos of Paul V. Daly, Jr. and Richard and Theresa Buckalew, plus several more New Era news clippings. The burgeoning PowerPoint has grown to almost 60MB and a reader recently reported difficulty in downloading it, so a 12MB PDF is now available as an alternative.

If you would like a higher resolution file of any image on the Album please ask and I will send it to  you.

Riverton Veterans Album PPSX                     Riverton Veterans Album PDF

Many veterans are not represented in the Album with a photo. Please contact us if you can supply a scan of a veteran’s photo, a news clipping, or some such military memorabilia suggestive of their service era.

Jackie Buckalew Hicks tells me that she posted a link on Facebook with a note to let others know how to go about adding their parents’ names to the Memorial. Thanks, Jackie. We need all of the help we can get. Scroll all the way down the page to find our Facebook button and please “like” us. – John McCormick, Gaslight News editor

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Veterans Day 2012 – Riverton honors veterans; adds seven names to Honor Roll

Mayor William Brown and Robert Smyth preside over Riverton Veterans Day ceremonies on Sunday, Nov. 11, 2012.

With their customary precision, perhaps a result of their own past military service, Riverton’s Mayor William Brown and Robert Smyth, Chairman of  Riverton’s Military & Veterans Affairs Committee, completed another mission of the Military and Veterans Affairs Committee, which formed in January: to honor the servicemen and women from the borough.

American Legion Post 146 of Riverside and the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 3020 of Delran lent a hand in honoring their comrades.


They presided over a brief but heartfelt Sunday morning tribute to America’s military personnel that added seven names to Riverton’s War Memorial Honor Roll.

Elton Catoe – Navy Donald D’Amato – Air Force Alfred W. DeVece – Navy
Paul M. Hoad – Army George A. Mack – Navy William Ulrich – Army 
  Anthony R. Wellens – Navy

Young men and women of Riverside High School ROTC presented the colors.

Jeannie O’Sullivan, Burlington County Times Staff Reporter, filed this affecting story  at phillyburbs.com  in which she interviewed Mayor Brown, Bob Smyth, George Mack and others. Jeannie has covered such events in Riverton before, and her writing always manages to convey to her readers the humanity we share with those whom she profiles.

L. to R. Mayor Bill brown, Jeff Mack, and his dad, George A. Mack

Reading her story and seeing her photos, one must admire the veterans and the earnest young men and women of the ROTC for their devotion to their country and comrades and for helping a neighboring town celebrate Veterans Day.

The glass of the Riverton War Memorial reflects the faces of veteran George Mack and his son, Jeff, as they inspect the list of names within the showcase.

Mayor Bill Brown and former Borough Councilman Bob Smyth have for some time championed the cause to support  current military personnel and veterans. Part of that support takes the form of publicly acknowledging and recognizing the service and sacrifice of our veterans on the Riverton War Memorial’ Honor Roll.

Their reward has been seeing the joy on the faces of Mr. George A. Mack and his family, and more than sixty other Riverton residents who have had their names added to the War Memorial since May 2011.


Members of Riverside High School ROTC attend to the colors

We acknowledge the efforts of Borough leadership to include in its recognition at this Memorial the service of all Riverton residents who served on active duty in the Armed Forces of the United States of America during a time of war. 

We gratefully say  “thank you” to Mr. George A. Mack and to all of America’s veterans, to let them know that we appreciate them for their service and honor them for their sacrifices.

Please help add to our expanding Riverton Veterans Honor Roll Album PowerPoint Slideshow (58MB) if you have a service photo or news clipping for a veteran listed within, or some other item related to Riverton’s home front.  – John McCormick, Gaslight News editor

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Riverton Veterans Album updated with new names and photos

The Memorial Day ceremony at the Riverton War Memorial on May 27, 2012 added fourteen new names to the Veterans Honor Roll. We post here our Riverton Veterans Album which shows the names of all veterans now listed on the Riverton War Memorial as well as many of their service photos.

The Honor Roll Album is a 55-page virtual scrapbook full of photos, news clippings from the hometown New Era newspaper, period advertisements,  wartime posters, even ration stamps.

Click here to download the 48MB PowerPoint Slideshow.

If you can supply another item that would add to this Historical Society tribute to the men and women of Riverton who have served the United States. please send us a scan. – John McCormick, Gaslight News editor

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New names added to Riverton veterans memorial

This is a link to a Burlington County Times article,  “New names added to Riverton veterans memorial” by Jeannie O’Sullivan Staff Writer, dated Monday, May 28, 2012 .

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Memorial Day marked by veterans, friends, and family May 27, 2012


Each Memorial Day the men in the honor guard bear the colors and provide the triple volley rifle salute that is part of the pageantry which both uplifts and comforts our spirits on this day of remembrance. Dressed in crisp dress uniforms, they carry out their duties with military discipline, and help us remember and reflect on the sacrifices made by so many to provide freedom for all. Certainly, the ceremony would not be the same without the presence of these warriors who now volunteer to serve their country again by performing this service as well as performing at final graveside honors for deceased veterans.

Please add a caption or tag to any photo (by photo number) in the comment box, or send us a longer comment by email if you can tell our readers about these dedicated men of the honor guard who so generously gave of their time to participate in Riverton’s Memorial Day ceremony.

Riverton’s War Memorial drew many veterans and their friends and family on Sunday morning to remember and honor military personnel who served the United States of America. Some came to support one of the fourteen new names that were added to the Honor Roll as a result of a recent change in the eligibility requirement. Details are on the Borough webpage.

Names added Sunday include:

Armand J. Bianchini Joseph A. Creighton, Jr. Robert I. Heck
George E. Horner Jr. Donald R. Hubbs Elwood C. Johnson
John S. Latimer Joseph Matera Bryan H. Norcross
Frank C. Quattrocchi Richard W. Schwering Monroe O. Steedle
Donald R. Taylor Thomas C. Whitelock

If you can supply any details about a photo, do so in the comment box and include the number of the photo. For example, Mayor Bill Brown is pictured in #14.

The Riverton Honor Roll Album has been updated to include these names, but we would very much like to also display a service photo for as many veterans as we can. Kindly send a scan of the veteran named on the Honor Roll and we will include the photo in the next update of the album. – John McCormick, Gaslight News editor

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Borough plans Memorial Day service Sunday, May 27; More Vets’ names to be listed on Honor Roll; Whitelock Memorial June 2

In March 2012, we received this gratifying email from the son of a Riverton military veteran.

From: Martin Edsell
Sent: 03/09/12 04:19 PM
To: rivertonhistory@usa.com
Subject: veteran photo – Gerard Clark Edsell

Gerard Clark Edsell

Dear Mr. McCormick,
I enjoy reading the many articles you write for the Historical Society of Riverton (found online at:  http://rivertonhistory.com/ ).

In the February issue of the Gaslight News, you requested photos of servicemen and women to match with the names on the Riverton War Memorial. My father’s name (Gerard Clark Edsell) was added to the Memorial in a ceremony last Veteran’s Day (11-11-11).

Attached are two photos of my father, either of which you may use in your online Honor Roll Album.

During World War II, my father was a Technical Sergeant in the U.S. Army Signal Corps.  From Nov. 1940 until Dec. 1945, he was stationed both stateside and on various islands overseas (Guadalcanal, New Caladonia, Bouganville, Mumda, and Manilla).

A resident of Riverton for over fifty years (from 1950 until his death in 2003), my father along with my mother (Eileen) raised seven children in the town. All of us have fond memories of growing up there.  Though the last Edsell moved out of Riverton just this past December, we can all continue to follow your articles online.

Mr. McCormick, thank you for your good work in keeping alive the history of our town and in helping to honor our veterans.

Martin Edsell

Shortly afterward, I updated the online Riverton Veterans Honor Roll Album. With Memorial Day just two weeks away, this is a good time to renew our request for readers to supply us with photos of Riverton service men and women to match with the names on the Riverton War Memorial. The Borough website has information about how to verify eligibility.

Citizens assembled on Memorial Day 2011, a day of remembrance for those who have died in our nation's service.

Mayor Bill Brown recently wrote to let us know that the Memorial Day service will be held on Sunday, May 27, 2012 at 10:30 a.m.  The Riverton Military & Veterans Affairs Committee will add the following names to the Veterans Honor Roll that day:

Armand J. Bianchini Joseph A. Creighton, Jr. Robert I. Heck
George E. Horner Jr. Donald R. Hubbs Elwood C. Johnson
John S. Latimer Joseph Matera Bryan H. Norcross
Frank C. Quattrocchi Richard W. Schwering Monroe O. Steedle
Donald R. Taylor Thomas C. Whitelock

Officer Thomas C. Whitelock

Military veteran Thomas C. Whitelock (listed above) will also be honored with a memorial of another kind on Saturday, June 2, 2012.

On Jan. 14, 1976, the seven-year veteran Riverton patrolman was killed in the line of duty as the result of responding to a call of a suicidal man in an apartment on Lippincott Avenue.

The Police Department and the Borough invites the community to the plaque dedication ceremony to honor Patrolman Whitelock’s heroism at the corner of Broad and Main Streets near the gazebo on Saturday, June 2, 2012 at 10:00 AM.

The Riverton Borough website has more information about Officer Whitelock and the ceremony here.

Burlington County Times staff writer Matt Chiappard relates more details of this tragic story in an article titled, “Decades later, a fitting memorial for a fallen Riverton officer”.

If you wish, you may join others who have left a reflection on the Officer Down Memorial Page.

To make a donation to the Thomas C. Whitelock Memorial and its maintenance, contact the Riverton Police Association, Attn: Memorial Fund, 501 Fifth St., Riverton, N.J. 08077.

The US Department of Veterans Affairs posts a straightforward answer to the FAQ (frequently asked question),

Q. What is the difference between Veterans Day and Memorial Day?

A. Many people confuse Memorial Day and Veterans Day. Memorial Day is a day for remembering and honoring military personnel who died in the service of their country, particularly those who died in battle or as a result of wounds sustained in battle. While those who died are also remembered, Veterans Day is the day set aside to thank and honor ALL those who served honorably in the military – in wartime or peacetime. In fact, Veterans Day is largely intended to thank LIVING veterans for their service, to acknowledge that their contributions to our national security are appreciated, and to underscore the fact that all those who served – not only those who died – have sacrificed and done their duty.

It is our privilege to devote part of rivertonhistory.com to honor Riverton veterans. It is a small, symbolic way say to all service men and women in the armed forces, “Thank you for your service.”

Maj. Gen. John A. Logan

Did you know that Memorial Day had its origin with the observance of placing flowers on the graves of Civil War dead? Dozens of communities throughout the North and South claim to have started the ritual that came to be called Decoration Day, but it was Maj. Gen. John A. Logan, the head of an organization of Union veterans, who issued General Orders No. 11 with these eloquent words:

The 30th day of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country…

… Let no vandalism of avarice or neglect, no ravages of time testify to the present or to the coming generations that we have forgotten as a people the cost of a free and undivided republic.

vintage Memorial Day postcard from Moore's Postcard Museum

The restoration of the Riverton War Memorial and grounds to a place of solemn beauty along with the recent effort to recognize veterans who served during other conflicts in addition to World War Two seem to have turned back the clock to a former time.

On a day seen by some communities as simply part of a three-day weekend that heralds the start of summer, Riverton shows that Memorial Day is a sacred day of remembrance to honor those who paid the ultimate price for our freedoms.

Consider stopping by the Memorial on Sunday, May 27, and at the gazebo at Broad & Main on Saturday, June 2, to remember our veterans and a police officer, without whom, the pages of history would tell a much different story.

– John McCormick, Gaslight News editor

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