Recipients of Essex County Veteran of the Year Award Honored

Carolyne Volpe Curley / West Essex Now

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Recipients of the Essex County Veteran of the Year awards, Nov. 9, 2021Office of Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo, Jr.
“Throughout our country’s history, brave men and women have put their lives on hold to serve in the US Armed Forces at home and abroad. Our Essex County Veterans Memorial Park was created to provide our veterans with a place to find serenity and comfort and provide a constant reminder to the public about their contributions and sacrifices. We are proud to stand with our veterans at this important occasion, give them our respect and thank them for representing our country with valor and bravery. Our honorees this year demonstrate their commitment to public service by working as County employees and helping us continue putting Essex County first.” ~ Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo, Jr.
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Recipients Tina Tyler, US Army and Sgt. Vincent Mays (US Army)Office of Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo, Jr.

Tina Tyler, US Army

“It’s an honor to be recognized especially when service people leave their children and families behind to keep everyone safe.” ~ Tina Tyler
  • Served from 1994 to 2011
  • Stationed at Fort Stewart, Georgia, before being deployed to Bosnia and Korea
  • Family Service Worker, NJ Family Care Office, Division of Family Assistance and Benefits

Sergeant Vincent Mays, US Army

“I’ve never experienced something like this. It makes he happy and proud.” ~ Sergeant Vincent Mays
  • Served with US Army from 1971 to 1973
  • Stationed in Oklahoma as a Data Processing Specialist and received an honorable discharge with the rank of Specialist 5 Sergeant.
  • Family Service Worker, NJ Family Care Office, Division of Family Assistance and Benefits
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Recipients Capt. Mark R. Bittner (US Army Reserves), and Capt. Mitchell G. McGuire, III (US Marines)Office of Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo, Jr.

Captain Mark R. Bittner, US Army Reserves

“I thank everyone who has served their country. I get the best of both worlds: to serve my country and to serve our community.” ~ Captain Mark R. Bittner
  • Legal Assistance Judge Advocate based at Fort Dix with the US Army Reserve Legal Command (USARLC) Fourth Legal Operations Detachment
  • Served in Kuwait with the 36th Infantry Division of the Texas National Guard in support of Operation Spartan Shield
  • Assistant Prosecutor, Essex County Prosecutor’s Office

Captain Mitchell G. McGuire, III, US Marines

“I am thankful for the recognition. It is an honor to serve this country”.~ Captain Mitchell G. McGuire, III
  • Chief of County Detectives, Essex County Prosecutor’s Office
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Recipients Sgt. Richard Calo (US Air Force) and Detective Vernice Leon-Rodriguez (US Army)Office of Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo, Jr.

Sergeant Richard Calo, US Air Force

“This is an unexpected surprise. I appreciate the recognition.”~ Sergeant Richard Calo
  • Involved in multiple large-scale Air Force construction projects at McGuire Air Force Base and in New Mexico and Florida
  • Recently stationed at Osan Air Base in South Korea
  • Sergeant, Essex County Sheriff’s Office

Detective Vernice Leon-Rodriguez, US Army

“It was an honor and privilege to serve in the Army.” ~ Detective Vernice Leon-Rodriguez
  • Deployed with Army as part of Operation Enduring Freedom to Bagram, Afghanistan
  • Detective, Essex County Sheriff’s Office
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Recipients Officer Joseph Morgan (US Marines), and Officer Victor Vazquez (US Marines)Office of Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo, Jr.

Officer Joseph Morgan, US Marines

“I want to thank everyone for their support.” ~ Officer Joseph Morgan
  • Corrections Officer, Essex County Correctional Facility

Officer Victor Vazquez, US Marines

“I accept this award on behalf of all veterans.” ~ Officer Victor Vazquez
  • Corrections Officer, Essex County Correctional Facility
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Recipient Kevan Kelly (US Army)Office of Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo, Jr.

Kevan Kelly, US Army

“It was a privilege and honor to serve my country in the Army and it’s been a privilege and honor to serve the patients at the Hospital Center,” ~ Kevan Kelly
  • Served for six years with US Army
  • Food Service Worker, Essex County Hospital Center for nearly 30 years

PRESENTATION

  • At the beginning of the ceremony, the Essex County Sheriff’s Honor Guard presented the colors
  • The Invocation was given by Rev. Dennis Hughes, Director of the Essex County Juvenile Detention Center.
  • The National Anthem was performed by Samantha Arias, Essex County West Caldwell School of Technology student
  • The “Armed Forces Medley" was performed by John Cusick

Joining the County Executive in giving accolades to the men and women who served our country were

  • NJ State Senator Cleopatra Tucker
  • NJ State Senator and Deputy Chief of Staff Teresa Ruiz
  • Assembly members Eliana Pintor Marin and Thomas Giblin
  • Essex County Prosecutor Ted Stephens
  • Sheriff Armando Fontoura
  • Commissioner President Wayne Richardson and Commissioners Patricia Sebold and Len Luciano
  • Deputy Chief of Staff William Payne
  • Irvington Mayor Tony Vauss

Essex County Veterans Memorial Park

  • Located between 13th Avenue and West Market Street on Wickliffe Street, Newark
  • The Armed Forces Memorial stands in the middle of the 2.7-acre park and includes a fountain flanked by the seven flags of the US military.
  • In 2011, the Memorial plaza was named in honor of Essex County Sheriff Detective Staff Sgt. Jorge Oliveira, killed while serving in Afghanistan.

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For further information:

Essex County, NJ
Joseph N. DiVincenzo, Jr.; Essex County Executive
465 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, Newark, NJ 07102
973-621-4400

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Carolyne Volpe Curley, a Certified New Jersey Press Journalist since 2012, has appeared on nationally televised productions and interviewed by the international press. Volpe Curley publishes West Essex NOW, a hyperlocal news site covering Essex County, NJ. Volpe Curley graduated from Lafayette College in 1986, with a BA in both English and Government, and a minor in Women Studies and Religion.

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