MORRIS COUNTY — As the Morris County Distinguished Military Service Medal program has grown in popularity, the Board of County Commissioners hosted two Veterans Day Observance ceremonies on November 8 and November 9 this year to publicly honor 28 local veterans, who were accompanied by family and friends.
State and federal authorities also issued honors to the former service members at these events, including State Sen. Anthony Bucco (Morris-25) and Assemblywoman Aura Dunn (Morris-25), Kellie Doucette, District Director, and Willy Tolba, Veterans and Military Affairs Liaison of U.S. Rep. Mikie Sherrill’s Office. State Sen. Joe Pennacchio (Morris-26) and U.S. Rep. Tom Kean also sent “Citations of Commendations and Praise” that were issued to each veteran at both events.
Making this year’s events extra special, Parsippany Council President Loretta Gragnani and Vice President Michael dePierro, who were receiving honors with veteran service, were surprised to discover they were also being honored for many years of dedicated public service to the county.
Gragnani, whose husband, Adam, was posthumously honored for his service as a Navy veteran, is the current president of the Parsippany Township Council after serving on the council for two consecutive terms. In addition, she has served on the Board of Adjustments since 2006 in Parsippany, the township she has resided in for 54 years.
DePierro has spent more than 40 years on the Parsippany Council, which, if coupled with the six years he served on the Parsippany school board, makes him the longest-serving elected official in Morris County who is still active. He is the only Parsippany official to be inducted into the New Jersey State League of Municipalities “Elected Officials Hall of Fame.”
They both plan on officially retiring from public service at the end of the year.
After honoring them at the start of the 7:00 p.m. regular public meeting on Wednesday, Commissioner Director John Krickus began the presentation of Distinguished Military Service Medals to Morris County veterans.
“Of all the titles I have had as an elected official, there is no title I am prouder of than United States Marine… During the time I served, I remember that our Vietnam Veterans were not treated the way they should have been. Thankfully today, I think we have a great widespread respect for our veterans, and I hope that always continues. You can challenge the war, but don’t challenge the warrior; they’re just serving our country,” said Krickus, a Marine Corps veteran.
He also noted that November 10, marks the 248th birthday of the United States Marine Corps.
The second ceremony took place on November 9th at the Morris County Veterans Services Office (VSO), where a ribbon cutting was also held to celebrate the opening of a new space for veterans’ services in the county-owned offices at the Morris View Health Care Center off West Hanover Avenue in Morris Township. The added room more than doubles the space available to support veterans and their families.
Commissioner Stephen Shaw, whose father, Robert Kent Shaw, was a U.S. Army Korean War veteran, reflected on the significance of the county’s Veteran medal programs.
“I did not know anything about my father’s military service until after he passed away. He was awarded a medal posthumously two years ago, which prompted me to look into his military service and realize what he went through and the sacrifices that he made in Korea,” said Shaw.
“The Morris County Office of Planning and Preservation does a phenomenal job researching and compiling information on the county website for a compendium of veterans from Morris County, going back to the Revolutionary War,” Shaw added.
In preparation for the 25th anniversary of the beginning of the War in Afghanistan coming up on October 7, 2026, the Morris County Office of Planning & Preservation invites local soldiers and sailors to participate in its latest Veterans Compendium project.
The Honored Veterans in Brief
The late Frank C. Cestone, Denville
Served in the U.S. Navy during the Korean War from 1950 until 1954, specializing in metal smithing and rigging. He worked aboard a blimp, Airship Squadron Three, one of the Navy’s “lighter-than-air” units.
Jesse William Christmas, Hanover Township
Served in the U.S. Air Force from August 2011 to September 2014 during the Global War on Terror as a cyber transport systems specialist.
Javier Colon, Town of Boonton
A veteran of the U.S. Army, Mr. Colon deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq for the Global War on Terrorism and Operation Iraqi Freedom during the 12 years he has served with the National Guard. He was called up via President Proclamation to serve during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Michael N. Cutter, Morristown
A U.S. Army veteran who served during the Vietnam War, he was on active duty from 1962 to 1965, before transferring to the Reserves and continuing to serve until 1968.
Kimberly S. Dean, Chester Township
A veteran of the U.S. Army, she served from April 1998 until her retirement in July 2023. She is a veteran of the Global War on Terrorism, having served in Operation Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom.
Michael J. dePierro, Parsippany Troy-Hills Township
Served with the U.S. Air Force from October 1959 to August 1962 during the Vietnam War era, training elite servicemen in single-sideband communications systems before their units went into combat in Vietnam.
Kevin M. Enriquez, Riverdale
A Marine, he served during the Global War on Terror from September 2012 until September 2016.
The late Adam J. Gragnani, Parsippany Troy-Hills Township
A veteran of the U.S. Navy during the Vietnam War era, he enlisted in February 1962 and served until October 1966.
John “Jack” F. Haren, Morris Plains
Served with the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War from April 1970 to June 1975 as a member of the U.S. Army Signal Corps.
David A. Hollowell, Sr., Morris Township
A Vietnam Veteran who served in the U.S. Army from February 1966 to February 1968, he supported the Army Geospatial Center as a computer programmer and systems analyst.
Stanley A. Kasiski, Hanover Township
A Vietnam veteran who enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1968, he served on active duty until 1970 when he transferred to the U.S. Army National Guard. His career in the National Guard spanned 23 years.
William Klimczuk, Mount Olive
A veteran of the U.S. Army, he served on active duty from October 1996 to 1999, with additional time in the Reserves until 2003. He served in El Salvador and in Operation Enduring Freedom during the Global War on Terrorism.
The Late Edward William Klingener, Sr., Town of Boonton
A Vietnam-era Veteran, he served in the U.S. Navy from 1961 to 1965 before he transferred to the Reserves. He served at the Boca Chica Marina at the U.S. Naval Air Station in Key West, Fla., and rescued a man while serving on a crash crew during the Cuban Missile Crisis. He was attached to the Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron 11 (VAW11) in North Island, Calif., where the squadron did shakedown cruises on the USS Coral Sea and USS Ranger. He was stationed off the coast of Vietnam on the USS Hancock CV-19.
Lemuel C. Leeper-Tilghman, Roxbury Township
A veteran of the U.S. Army and National Guard, he served from May 2010 to April 2021 in the Global War on Terrorism and Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Steven J. Levine, Pequannock
A U.S. Navy veteran, he served during the Vietnam War from June 1964 to September 1967.
Alistair H. Maclennan, Chester Township
Alistair H. Maclennan of Chester Township served in the Marines from 1965 to 1966 before he was honorably discharged.
The late Brian McCluskey, Denville
A Vietnam Veteran, he served in the U.S. Navy from April 1972 to September 1977 as a quartermaster in ship navigation.
Robert J. McDonnell, Lincoln Park
A Vietnam Veteran who served in the U.S. Army from September 1966 to August 1968, he served with 1st Signal Brigade, and as operations officer of 37th Signal Battalion. He and other officers with degrees in electrical engineering deployed the Troposcatter Microwave Communications System and other cutting-edge communication technology throughout the U.S. Army I Corps.
The late James L. McElwee, Morris Township
A Vietnam Era Veteran, he served in the U.S. Army from 1968-1970 and continued to serve as a member of the U.S. Army National Guard in Morris County for more than two decades.
Damonique Simkins Murray, Dover
A veteran of the Gulf War, she served in the U.S. Army from November 1991 to August 1999.
Jasmine Navarro, Wharton
Jasmine Navarro of Wharton served in the U.S. Army from 2004 to 2010 during Operation Iraqi Freedom and has continued to work as a Department of Defense civilian in South Carolina, Saudi Arabia, Arizona, and currently at Picatinny Arsenal.
Joseph C. Notowicz, Morristown
A veteran of the U.S. Army, he served during the Vietnam War from March 1967 until March 1970. Serving in the 2nd Battalion, 3rd Field Artillery in Europe, he handled logistical, maintenance, and supply tasks.
Ronald J. Pellegrino, Wharton
A veteran of the U.S. Navy, U.S. Navy Reserve, and New York Naval Militia, he served from October 1985 to May 1997, including duty in Panama, during the Cold War and in Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm. He continued to work in the defense sector and as a Department of Defense civilian, now serving at Picatinny Arsenal.
Anthony “Tony” P. Romano, Morris Township
A Vietnam-era Veteran, he served with the U.S. Army on active duty from 1956 to 1958, before he transferred to the Reserves. In July of 1956, aboard a military ship en route to France, he did critical mechanical work as an electrician supporting the military supply line to the front lines.
James Tarsitano, Jr., Jefferson Township
A Vietnam Veteran who served in the U.S. Air Force from August 1963 to July 1969, he earned the Air Force Medal 900-3, known as the Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal, among other accolades.
Louis F. Tremallo, Jr., Morris Township
A Vietnam-era veteran, he served with U.S. Army National Guard’s 112th Field Artillery at Morristown Armory, for six years from July 1969 until July 1975.
Marc Weinberg, Denville
A Vietnam War Veteran, he served in the U.S. Army from May 1966 to February 1969.
The late Warren E. Wilhide, Sr., Morris Township
A veteran of the U.S. Army, he served during the Korean War from 1951 to 1954, stationed at Chuncheon Air Base in Korea and with an anti-aircraft battery defending the U.S. Capitol and White House in Washington.