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William J. DeGrosky, of Denville, the chaplain for the American Legion of Morris County, salutes the flag at the Morris County Memorial Day services at the Morris County Courthouse in Morristown on Wednesday.

JOhn bell / daily record
Annette Brown, left, and Charlene Cosgrove-Bowie, who both lost sons in Iraq, place a wreath at the county's Memorial Day services on Wednesday.
JOhn bell / daily record
Lance Cpl. Drew Daddio, of Parsippany, receives the Morris County Distinguished Service Medal freeholders at a ceremony Wednesday at the Morris County Courthouse in Morristown.
JOhn bell / daily record
Members of the Morris County Sheriff Department line up for the Morris County Memorial Day services on the front lawn of the Morris County Courthouse on Wednesday in Morristown.

05/24/07 - Posted from the Daily Record newsroom
Memorial Day program honors Morris veterans


MORRISTOWN -- It was a ceremony of taps.

The 21-member rifle squad tapped the stocks of the their weapons on Court Street's asphalt Wednesday as they created a line, and then again as the rifle officers from the Morris County Sheriff's Office performed a ceremonial inspection, the sound echoing off the stone buildings of the county complex.

At the end of Morris County's Memorial Day program, Sheriff's Capt. Carol Ackerman played taps to a hushed crowd.

"It is a sad day indeed when servicemen and woman give their lives in the line of duty,"said Freeholder Director Margaret Nordstrom. "Sad, of course, for their families -- and sad for the rest of America, the rest of us who have lost a loved one, a friend or a neighbor who was committed to defending us and our nation."

Under bright sun and an American flag flying overhead at half-staff, Nordstrom said, "Without question, we owe all of these veterans -- in particular those of you who are seated here today -- and the family members of two of our fallen heroes, an enormous gratitude for your devotion, your patriotism and your sacrifices."

The county freeholders presented 13 Distinguished Service Medals to veterans, including two to the parents of two Marines who died in Iraq, Lance Cpl. Donald S. Brown, of Roxbury, and Lance Cpl. Christopher Cosgrove, of Hanover. The county has presented more than 8,350 medals to service members.

Philip Brown said his son Donald was always full of life and lived every day to the fullest. The news of his death was shocking, he said.

"I had no idea why they were at my house," he recalled about greeting the military officers who brought the family the news of his death.

During the raising of the American flag, Philip Brown stood ramrod straight with his shoulders back and his face both filled with pride and torn with sorrow.

Monsignor Patrick Brown of St. Vincent DePaul Church, who gave the invocation, said before the prayer that he was in Arlington National Cemetery for the funeral of a family friend, Army Staff Sgt. Paul Latourney of New York, who was killed in Iraq in March.

Brown said he was explaining to the soldier's 11-year-old son that his father was buried in a place with many others who had acted bravely. He said the boy responded, "If we are lucky, we will all get a chance to be brave."

Morris Plains Mayor Frank Druetzler, a former freeholder, was the main speaker.

"Today in front of this historic Morris County Courthouse, and so very near to where much of the fighting for our freedom took place over 230 years ago ... we demonstrate our appreciation to the fallen warriors of that War of Independence and to the fallen heroes in wars since then," he said.

"Ours has been a nation whose citizens willingly and without hesitation shed their own blood to establish liberty,"Drutzler said. "We are derived from a nation of patriots."

County medals were presented to the following: Navy veteran Christopher U. Andrews, of Kinnelon, who served on the USS Independence in the first Gulf war; Army Capt. Matthew Clay Bartlett, of Montville, an Iraq veteran; Marine Lance Cpl. Drew W. Daddio, of Parsippany, an Iraq veteran; Marine Cpl. Donald J. Fantasia, of Whippany, an Iraq veteran; U.S. Coast Guard Seaman Jeffrey Greco, of Flanders; Marine Cpl. Velma D. Hodge, of Netcong; Army National Guard Staff Sgt. Eugene Kuhar, of Jefferson, a Vietnam and Iraq veteran; Marine Lance Cpl. Jacquel R. Miranda, of Hopatcong, an Iraq veteran; retired Air Force pilot Scott C. Stebbins, Iraq veteran; Marine Lance Cpl. Kyle C. Witty, of Montville, Iraq veteran; and Marine Lance Cpl. Remigiusz Wojdala, of Denville, an Iraq veteran who with Witty was on the same patrol when Cosgrove was killed on Oct. 1, 2006.

Michael Daigle can be reached at (973) 267-7947 or at
Daily 24 May 2007
Daily Record. 28 May 2007
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