Wounded Warrior Parade Provides Thanks To Veterans

Motorcycle groups come from various areas of Ocean County and throughout New Jersey to escort the Wounded Warriors. (Photo by Bob Vosseller)

  JACKSON – A parade and a full day of honor was held for veterans as they were thanked for their service.

  The Wounded Warrior Parade involved veterans being escorted from the Jackson Justice Complex to the Central Jersey Rifle and Pistol Club. The parade had transport vehicles, an honor guard, and public officials. Spectators waved flags and held banners to show their support as the parade passed by. Refreshments and free range time were available at the club.

  WWII Marine veteran Anthony Isiena of Howell was enjoying a cup of coffee and some of the baked goods put out at the gathering point for the parade before it started. He had a cane but only due to his recent cataract surgery.

World War II U.S. Marine veteran Anthony Isiena, of Howell smiles over a cup of coffee as he awaits the start of this year’s Wounded Warrior Parade/Escort near the Jackson Township Justice Complex. (Photo by Bob Vosseller)

   “I was all over the place during my service. I was at the Guadalcanal, Japan and China. I was supposed to have gone to Okinawa but they sent me to Guam,” he said.

  Isiena suffered a concussion during his service and lost his memory. “I didn’t know who I was. I didn’t even know I was in the service.” He recovered and now, even at this advanced age, recalls his time in service.

  While not present for the escort, Air Force Lt. Col. Anne Maker, 67, of Browns Mills once again made it to the Pistol Club Range that followed the parade. She spoke to The Jackson Times prior to the event and noted her service at Bagram Airbase in Afghanistan and her work with a Combat Veteran Support Group at the East Orange Veterans Administration Hospital.

  “I’ve participated in Warrior Day before in Jackson. It is a time to get together with other veterans and to see how we are all doing and just be together and enjoy the day,” she said.

  Maker suffers from PTSD. She is part of a group “that is primarily Vietnam veterans and some Korean War veterans, some Afghan-Iraq veterans and we meet once a week every Friday. It was primarily a PTSD group but since Covid we haven’t met and they are still trying to work out how we can get back together again.”

  Maker said, “I joined the Air force in 1976 and I retired in 2016 so I have not quite 40 years. The first 20 years were during peace time with no deployments but then in ’97 I went to Bosnia and in 2006 I went to Quatar and went back there in 2013 and was in Bagram in August of 2009 until May of 2010. This was primarily the Air Force reserve although I did a lot of active-duty time with deployments and other things.”

  She said events like this were “fairly important because it gives me the opportunity to meet with other veterans and build some comradery.” She said she was also part of a group that meets in South Brunswick that brings veterans together for some archery practice.

  This year marked the 14th Annual Wounded Warrior Parade where Mayor Mike Reina, Congressman Chris Smith (R-4th District) and Senator Samuel Thompson (R-12th) once again recognized many outstanding citizens in the township.

  Also present were Council Vice President Andrew Kern and Councilman Nino Borrelli and numerous veterans and members of veteran support organizations such as Jackson American Legion Post 504.

Members of the Jackson Police Department Color Guard assemble for this year’s Wounded Warrior Parade/Escort. (Photo by Bob Vosseller)

  “You can say ‘thank you’ as many times as you want in social media, but to walk up to a wounded warrior and shake their hand and thank them and look them in the eye, that two or three minutes, whatever it is, lasts a lifetime. You can never say thank you enough to our veterans,” said Reina, who founded the event in 2008.

  Frank Bartolomey serves as quartermaster in the Jackson American Legion. He and Tony Rubino are also members of the Post’s motorcycle riders’ group.

  The American Legion Riders and groups like Rolling Thunder were there as part of the escort. “We go to many events like this to support our fellow veterans. Veterans look out for each other. We are only 1% of the population which is small but we appreciate what they have done,” Bartolomey said.

  Pistol club member Al Dolce said the club provides a full day of activities for the veterans following the parade/escort event. “We open up our range for free use and food is provided.”