By NANETTE LoBIONDO GALLOWAY
LONGPORT – This year’s Wounded Warrior Week recipient U.S. Army Maj. Todd Berrios and his wife Mari will arrive for their all-expense-paid vacation 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 22. The Longport American Legion Post 469 has made all the arrangements for the weeklong vacation and is inviting Downbeach residents to support the couple as they pass through Ventnor and Margate to their home-away-from-home in Longport during a welcome parade along Dorset and Atlantic avenues.
Although the weather forecast has predicted a 40% chance of rain, the Legion has called on the weather gods to delay the raindrops until after the Berrios family is tucked away in their humble beach-block abode. Arrangements have been made for updates on their arrival to be posted on Downbeach.com and the Longport Borough website.
The motorcade, which will leave Ventnor Plaza shopping center at 5:30 p.m., will be led by the American Legion Riders on their Harley motorcycles, followed by the Berrios’s in a white stretch convertible limousine with police and fire apparatus from Ventnor, Margate and Longport close behind.
Residents are being asked to come out along the parade route to cheer for Berrios wearing patriotic colors, waving American flags and holding handmade posters thanking him for his service to the nation.
Berrios, who began his military career as a Marine in 1992, eventually joined the Army and became a Special Forces officer. He was wounded in action on Feb. 8, 2020 in Afghanistan and is still recovering from multiple gunshot wounds. He is the recipient of a Bronze Star and Purple Heart, in addition to many other citations.
During their visit, they will be treated to dinners, shows, boating excursions and other activities, many donated by area businesses, and culminating with a military styled ceremony and reception in their honor.
The American Legion started its Wounded Warrior Week program in 2012 after Legionaire Donal Sheahan came up with the idea of providing a wounded service member with a much needed vacation at the Jersey shore. Since then, numerous residents have allowed the wounded warriors and their families to stay in their beach-block homes.
Contributions to the program can be sent to American Legion Post 469, PO Box 441, Longport, NJ 08403. Contributors will be invited to attend a welcoming barbeque in Longport where they can meet and greet Todd and Mari Berrios.
For information, contact Larry Pacentrilli at email@example.com.
Past honorees are:
2012: Sgt Gabe Orozco, US Army
2013: Sgt Adam Alexander, US Army
2014: LT Andrew Dow, US Navy
2015: CPL Patrick Matise, US Marines
2016: MSGT Kris Parker, US Air Force
2017: SFC Angeleek Courtney, US Army
2018: Chief Petty Officer Adam Fleck, US Navy
2019: SO1 Joe Hahn, US Navy
2020: SFC Richard Stayskal
2021: Major Todd Berrios
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