ESTELL MANOR – Atlantic County will honor the sacrifice and service of its fallen military veterans 2 p.m. Friday, May 24 during the 39th annual Veterans Memorial Program. It will be the first program to be held in the newly renamed Richard E. Squires Veterans Cemetery, located in the county park at 109 Route 50.

“The Memorial Day holiday is held in remembrance of our fallen veterans who served to protect our country and its freedoms,” Atlantic County Executive Dennis Levinson said in a release. “In Atlantic County, it is our proud tradition to honor them with this program held on the Friday before Memorial Day. We invite the public to join us in paying tribute to these heroic men and women so their supreme sacrifice will never be forgotten.”

Longport resident and retired U.S. Air Force Capt. Daniel J. Brestle will present the keynote address. Brestle was born in Atlantic City. The three-sport athlete graduated from Holy Spirit High School and Villanova University before being drafted into the military during the Vietnam War. He was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in 1967 and assigned to Lajas Field, Azores, Portugal in 1968. He was selected the Outstanding Transportation Officer in 1969 and 1970, the only individual to win the award two consecutive years. In 1970, he was sent to Vietnam and commissioned First Lieutenant in 1971. He was transferred to Saigon as Aide de Camp for a two-star general. After receiving his regular commission in May 1971, he served as Base Transportation Officer in Homestead Florida, 1971-1973.

Brestle also had a very successful civilian career in distribution, marketing and operations, including 30 years in leadership positions within the Estee Lauder organization, attaining the rank of Chief Operating Officer and North America chairman.

The annual program features the Atlantic County Sheriff’s Color Guard, the Atlantic County Corrections Officers’ Honor Guard; the Sandpipers’ Pipes and Drums, the presentation of the memorial wreath and the playing of Taps. According to Levinson, this year it will also include a tribute to former County Executive Dick Squires who died on April 2 at the age of 91.

The idea for the cemetery belonged to Squires, a U.S. Navy veteran who served on the USS Wisconsin. The cemetery was dedicated in 1985, comprised of four acres. It has grown over the years and recently completed a 20-acre expansion with multiple improvements. It currently serves as a final resting place for more than 6,500 residents, including Squires and his wife Winnie.

In preparation for the May 24 program, several local scout troops will place American flags at each of the cemetery’s gravesites on Wednesday, May 22 (rain date: Thursday, May 23). Scouts who perform this task on at least two of three annual occasions are eligible to receive the Atlantic County Patriotism patch in recognition of their service to veterans

Categories: Downbeach

Nanette LoBiondo Galloway

Award winning journalist covering news, events and people of Atlantic County for more than 20 years.