Annual Wounded Warrior Parade Coming Soon

Archive: Members of Jackson Girl Scout Troop 49 gather with the American Flag. (Photo by Bob Vosseller)

  JACKSON – Celebrating veterans has been a time-honored tradition in the township and this year’s annual Wounded Warrior Parade/Escort will be held on October 8.

  Veterans and those escorting them in the parade will meet at the Justice Complex on West Veterans Highway at 9 a.m. They will leave the Justice Complex around 9:30 a.m. The parade heads to the Central Jersey Rifle and Pistol Club on South Stump Tavern Road. Afterward, there will be a full day of activities for veterans at the club. Club members open up their range for free use to the veterans and food is provided to them and their families.

  Pistol club member Al Dolce said, “hero sandwiches are being provided by Wegmans, pulled pork provided by Smokin 55 BBQ, and the Salvation Canteen Truck is working the parade start and later at the club. We wish to show the veterans our sincere appreciation, and give them and their families a good time.”

  “Warriors will be escorted by the Jackson Township Police Department, Jackson Township Volunteer Fire Companies, Jackson Township First Aid Squad, motorcycle groups, as well as many other grateful individuals volunteering to show support for these brave soldiers. They are true heroes,” Mayor Michael Reina said.

  This year marks the 14th Annual Wounded Warrior event hosted by the Central Jersey Rifle and Pistol Club. This year, the Club will be paying special honor to WWII veterans.

  Dolce noted some of the history of the event. He told The Jackson Times that “around 2007 I saw an article in the back of a gun magazine of a blind soldier who killed a wild pig with a spear. He is in his camo at parade rest, pig at his feet.  The pig is not at all big, but I don’t care, the dude is blind. I didn’t know a soul who had heard of Wounded Warrior Project back then, this was before they were on TV.

Photo by Bob Vosseller

  “We do an annual Woman’s Day and also a Youth Day at the Club. I called then-Club President Don Toenshoff and told what I had learned, and asked if we could do a day for these Wounded Soldiers.”

  Dolce got the thumbs up on the idea and “the Club gave me $500 for food and drink. I called Jacksonville, and two months later WWP was at the Club with soldiers from Walter Reed hospital.

  “Besides all of us remarking how young they were, two things really stayed in my memory. There was a skinny kid who not only lost his right arm, but also the ball socket in the shoulder. There was a notch where the socket had been,” Dolce added.

  “He was shooting skeet with a 28-gauge lefty. The trap instructor was so moved that he later contacted me to get this soldier’s contact information. Had an article for him about a competitive one-armed skeet shooter, to encourage the soldier to keep striving,” he said.

  “The other was a Navy Corpsman with the Marines who lost both legs at the knee. He fired every single gun we had in the place. Later in the afternoon they tell the soldiers to form up to get on the bus, they have to go to New York City. The Corpsman goes ‘Skip the baseball game, let’s stay here and keep shooting,’” Dolce added.

  He noted that it is “great to be able to give hospital patients a day like that. This event has grown over time, and this year we additionally are honoring WWII veterans.”

  Usually seen among the spectators along the parade route are members of local Boy Scout, Cub Scout and Girl Scout troops. They wave American flags and hold up their home-made signs of greeting for the veterans. Others cheer on veterans they know or support all the veterans present by waving to them.

  Reina has hosted the event each year since taking office in 2008. In past years, he has had the honor of riding alongside wounded veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars, along with veterans from Vietnam, Korea, and WWII.

Photo by Bob Vosseller

  “We owe a great debt to those who have served in defense of our nation. For many, their sacrifice has ended in permanent injury. It has been a true honor to ride alongside these heroes each year as we escort them. Showing your support will only take a few minutes out of your day but will provide a lasting memory for these heroes,” he said.

  “The support from the community has been great and we look forward to this event each and every year. Spectators will be asked to safely park their cars along the roads, wave flags or hold banners, and show their support as the parade passes by,” he said.

  Any agency, club or group wishing to take part in this show of support should contact Mayor Reina’s office by calling 732-928-1200 ext.1211.

  All Wounded Warriors and veterans who are interested in attending should email