Morris County Honors Veterans Day

Published on November 10, 2021

Ness Veteran Day 2021.jpg

“Hero” General Praised as Eight Veterans Receive Distinguished Military Service Medals

The Morris County Board of County Commissioners presented Morris County Distinguished Military Service Medals to eight former servicemen today in an annual Veterans Day Observance ceremony, at which the late Four-Star Gen. Raymond T. Odierno also was recognized.

“Tonight we continue our tradition in Morris County of honoring those who served in our nation’s military by presenting our Distinguished Military Service Medals to veterans of Morris County. We also are taking a moment to observe the contributions of a local hero, a soldier renowned around the world, whose service to our nation was remarkable and who was taken from us prematurely,” said Commissioner Director Stephen H. Shaw.

Learn More Details About Each Veteran Honored and View the Event Photo Album 

The Commissioners, the veterans and their families were joined in the county public meeting room in Morristown by state Sen. Anthony Bucco, Rockaway Mayor Tom Mulligan and Col. Jeff Cantor, CEO & Founder of the New Jersey Veterans Chamber of Commerce, to honor the late Gen. Odierno. The former U.S. Army Chief of Staff and Iraq War hero died of cancer at the age of 67 on Oct. 8, 2021.

Read more about Gen. Odierno.

Col Cantor 1.jpg Col. Cantor, who served with the general in Iraq, spoke about that tour of duty, recalling General Odierno’s guidance as they worked to re-establish civilian authority in war-torn sections of Iraq.

“He was an amazing person who listened to everyone, whether you were a private or a colonel like myself,” said Col. Cantor. “He had that incredible insight of knowing what to do at all times.”

Mayor Mulligan attended the ceremony with Borough Councilman James Hurley, Police Chief Conrad Pepperman and Fire Marshall Thomas Trapasso, a childhood friend of Gen. Odierno. The mayor said the general never forgot the hometown where he was baptized, raised and went to elementary and high school.

“In past years, when the general visited Rockaway Borough, he always had time for the residents. He visited the schools he attended to interact with the students. HisOdierno Ceremony Rockaway Borough Officials.jpg presence was larger than life in Rockaway Borough,” Mulligan said.

Sen. Bucco presented the mayor with a Joint Legislative Resolution honoring Gen. Odierno’s life and service, while Willy Tolba, the military & veterans liaison to U.S. Rep. Mikie Sherrill, also presented a notice of Congressional Record Entry on the general’s service and passing.

Commissioner Director Shaw framed special resolutions on behalf of the board to Mayor Mulligan and Col Cantor recognizing Gen. Odierno “for his dedicated service to the citizens of the United States.”

The ceremony opened as Commissioner John Krickus, a U.S. Marine, noted that today marked the 246th Birthday of the United States Marine Corps and that Morris County is creating an on-line platform to honor local marines.

Morris County’s Office of Planning and Preservation has begun an effort to identify, compile information on and memorialize Morris County Marines dating back to the Revolutionary War in 1775, when the Second Continental Congress passed a resolution establishing two battalions of Marines as a landing force.

Morris County was home to such notable “Devil Dogs” as Brigadier General John Groff, a decorated WWI marine.

Read about “The Old Man of the Marine Corps,” & Other Morris County Marines

Eight local veterans were honored by the Morris County Board of County Commissioners tonight with Distinguished Military Service Medals. Below are their names, hometowns and short biographies. More is available on each veteran at:

Morris County Honors Veterans Day 2021


Ness at Veterans Day 2021.jpg Walter Carl Ness, Harding Township

Mr. Ness, who will turn 101 years old this month, entered the U.S. Navy during WWII on March 14, 1944 and was assigned to a minesweeping ship, the USS YMS-216. He deployed to the Pacific Theater, where he served until he was honorably discharged on April 28, 1946.

He earned the Victory Medal, the American Victory Medal and the Asiatic Pacific Medal for his service. Mr. Ness was honored by Harding Township last year, which declared Nov. 24, 2020 “Walter Ness Day” and hosted a parade to honor his 100th birthday. He also has been awarded The New Jersey Distinguished Service Medal and the New Jersey Meritorious Service Medal.


Dom Nicastro accepts Medal for Dad Louis.jpg Louis James Nicastro, Rockaway Township (posthumously awarded)

Mr. Nicastro entered the U.S. Navy on Dec. 17, 1951 during the Korean War and was assigned to the Fleet All-Weather Training Unit, Atlantic, (FAWTULANT) at the Naval Air Station in Key West, FL.

Mr. Nicastro was honorably discharged on Dec. 16, 1955, and he remained active in the U.S. Naval Reserves until 1959.

He received the National Service Defense Medal and Good Conduct Medal. His Morris County Distinguished Service Medal was presented to his son, Dominick.


Pilone receives Distinguished Service Medal.jpg Joseph Henry Pilone, Cedar Knolls

Mr. Pilone entered the U.S. Marine Corps during Vietnam on Sept. 8, 1965.

He served as a helicopter mechanic before being honorably discharged on Nov. 21, 1966.

He received the Vietnam National Service Medal, the National Defense Service Medal and a Rifle Marksman Badge.


Alfred Rubin Widow Accepts Medal.jpg Alfred Elison Rubin, Morristown (deceased)

Mr. Rubin entered the U.S. Navy on Dec. 20, 1944 during WWII. His service took him from ports in New York and California to Yokosuka, Japan.

He was honorably discharged on June 1, 1946.

He received the Asiatic Pacific Medal, the Victory Medal and American Theatre Medal.



Michael Anthony Battaglino accepts Medal.jpg Michael Anthony Battaglino, Denville

Mr. Battaglino entered the U.S. Navy on July 31, 1958 and served during the early years of the Vietnam War until he was honorably discharged on May 22, 1962.

He received the Good Conduct Medal.



Joseph John McGovern Accepts Medal.jpg Joseph John McGovern, Morristown

Mr. McGovern was 35 years old when he entered the U.S. Army National Guard on Sept. 28, 2005 and began serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom. He deployed to Baghdad, Iraq on Nov. 28, 2006 and was wounded multiple times during that tour of duty before ending that tour on Oct. 18, 2007. He was honorably discharged in 2008.

He received the Purple Heart, the Army Commendation Medal, the Army Achievement Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the Iraq Campaign Medal, the Army Service Ribbon, the Overseas Service Ribbon, the Armed Forces Reserve Medal w/Device, and the Combat Action Badge.


Philip Anthony Schott Accepts Medal.jpg Philip Anthony Schott, Roxbury

Mr. Schott served in the U.S. Army during the Cold War, entering the military on Aug. 16, 1979 and serving an extended term of duty in Germany until he was honorably discharged on Dec. 18, 1986. He received the Army Service Ribbon, the Overseas Service Ribbon, the Army Achievement Medal, the Good Conduct Medal (2nd Award), the Expert Marksmanship Badge, the Sharp Shooter Marksmanship Badge - Rifle (M-16) and the Marksmanship Badge Pistol, 45 Cal.



Kenneth Eugene Wiley accepts Medal.jpg Kenneth Eugene Wiley, Morris Plains

Mr. Wiley entered the U.S. Army during Vietnam on March 4, 1964. His specialty was in Army flight operations coordination, and he earned the Vietnam Service Medal, an Expert Marksmen Badge (Rifle M-14) and a letter of commendation.

Morris County recognizes resident veterans by presenting them with the Morris County Distinguished Military Service Medal, which are unique to the county and have been awarded since 2000 to veterans or their family members to honor their service to our country.  More than 10,000 have been presented.

Veteran Photos:

Commissioner Shaw presents a medal to Walter Ness

Commissioner Douglas Cabana presents the medal for Louis James Nicastro to his son, Dominick.

Commissioner Tayfun Selen presents a medal to Joseph Henry Pilone

Commissioner Krickus presents the medal for Alfred Elison Rubin to his widow, Arleene.

Commissioner Deputy Director Deborah Smith presents a medal to Michael Anthony Battaglino.

Director Shaw presents a medal to Joseph John McGovern.

Deputy Director Smith presents a medal to Philip Anthony Schott.

Commissioner Thomas Mastrangelo presents a medal to Kenneth Eugene Wiley.


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