By NANETTE LoBIONDO GALLOWAY
LONGPORT – Members of American Legion Post 469 held their annual Veterans Day service at Thomas B. Reed Memorial Park at the foot of the Longport bridge. The ceremony began promptly at 11 a.m. on the 11th day of the 11th month of 2023. Approximately 100 patriotic Americans attended the event.
Post Commander Larry Pacentrilli dedicated the service not only to veterans past and present, but also for those who gave their all. Pacentrilli noted that when World War I ended 105 years ago, Nov. 11 was set aside as a day to remember all veterans living and deceased.
At first it was called Armistice Day noting the end of “The War to End All Wars.”
“Since then, America has been involved in many wars around the world, large and small, almost continuously. It is a sad reminder that freedom is never free,” Pacentrilli said. “Veterans have been at the forefront in stepping up and being willing to pay the ultimate price for our freedom.”
The program opened with Tighe Middle School eighth grader Scarlett Romano of the Singsations choral group singing the national anthem. Chaplain John Murphy offered the invocation.
The post honored nine veterans with ties to Longport by placing an engraved brick in the walkway surrounding the sundial memorial that notes important historical moments in U.S. military history.
As veteran John Stroebele responded to Pacentrilli that the brick honoring the veteran was perfectly placed, he handed a small American flag to the veteran’s family member.
On hand to see their dad, Tony DiLorenzo’s brick installed, were son Joe DiLorenzo and his sister Angel DiPentino. Their uncle Frank, 92, Tony’s twin, was also honored with a brick paver.
“They were both not feeling well so they didn’t come,” DiPentino said. “They still both live in Longport just five blocks from each other.”
Tony DiLorenzo is a veteran of the U.S. Coast Guard and was stationed in Cape May, his son said.
“Dad was the last to go into the service and he was the first to come home,” DiPentino said.
Uncle Frank was not as fortunate. At age 21, he was a corporal in the U.S. Army during the Korean Conflict and was involved in the battle of Pork Chop Hill. An ordnance exploded near him and he was taken to Tokyo for surgery on his ear. Unfortunately, he lost his hearing in that ear.
Joe DiLorenzo said his dad and uncle are “very proud” of their years of service to the country.
The twins’ older brother Angelo, now age 95, is also a U.S. Army veteran who lives in Mt. Ephram.
The other veterans honored include:
Col. Joseph S. Ziccardi, U.S. Army, active and reserve duty 1959-1994, who died in 2012.
PFC Kerry Pacifico, U.S. Army, WWII, earned a Purple Heart after being wounded in the Battle of the Bulge. He is the son of a WWI veteran. Both father and son served under an officer who turned out to become President of the U.S. – Dwight D. Eisenhower.
Pvt. Jack Snyder, U.S. Army, a Russian immigrant who arrived in the U.S. in 1915. He was drafted into WWI, served in France. He was awarded an Honorable Discharge and U.S. Citizenship on the same day.
Pvt. Aaron Snyder, U.S. Army, WWII, survivor of the battle at Normandy Beach on D Day, liberated many from German concentration camps. At age 85, he was one of 35 veterans presented with the French Legion of Honor Award, the highest civilian honor in France. He died in 2011 and is buried at Sarasota National Cemetery.
Technician 4th Class Sidney M. Engle, U.S. Army, Medic WWII, Japan, post-war he was a jeweler by trade.
Cpl. William Francis Finlay, U.S. Marine Corps, 1961-1965, served Transport Operations in Hawaii. He was proudly tattooed with the Marine Corps Eagle, Globe and Anchor prominently displayed on his arm. He passed away in August at age 82, after a long career in the fashion industry.
Airman James Schnepp, U.S. Air National Guard, WWII, served on flight line aircraft maintenance at Philadelphia International Airport. Older brother of Legionnaire Tom Schnepp who served two tours in Vietnam. Now 86, James Schnepp is retired from the U.S. Postal Service where he served as Postmaster in Merion and Glenside, Pa.
After the ceremony, the crowd moved to Borough Hall where the Longport Library staff provided a light lunch and desserts.
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