By DON STINE
Neptune resident Anthony C. Repetti fought in World War II pretty much from the beginning in 1941 until the end in 1945, from North Africa and Italy as part of an Army infantry division.
“He was injured near the end of the war and was awarded the Bronze and Silver stars,” said his daughter, Madelyn Fox, as she stared down at her father’s memorial brick paver on the walkway leading to the newly-dedicated Neptune Veteran’s Park on Old Corlies Avenue.
Almost 200 pavers line the entranceway to the park and Repetti’s is one of many of the 69 Neptune residents who have died in the line of duty.
“Words can’t say,” said Fox, who lives in Wall Township, as she looked at her father’s paver. “It’s wonderful for our family and we are very thrilled. It is important that we all remember our veterans.”
Hundreds of people turned out Tues., Nov. 11 to dedicate the new Veteran’s Park, on the 6.46-acre former Welsh dairy tract. The new memorial park, which is still under construction in some areas, will cost close to $800,000, with money coming from grants, donations and taxpayers.
The largest chunk of the cost for the new memorial park, or about $288,000, is going toward monuments and other memorials
“This has been a long time in the making but we are finally here,” said Township Committeeman Eric Houghtaling during the dedication ceremony.
“We honor what our veterans have done and this will be a permanent place of honor- a perfect spot in the oldest, historic part of Neptune,” he said.
Mayor Michael Brantley, who is a veteran, said that the pavers on the walkway recognize our heroes- “some who are here today and some in spirit only. We acknowledge you and acknowledge your call to duty.”
“You look at the names on the pavers and you cannot leave here without feeling something great about our nation,” he said.
Memorial brick pavers in memory of a loved one or military veteran can still be purchased even thought the deadline, which was the end of September, has passed.
The pavers, which are being installed on walkways near the several monuments at the park, cost $50 for a brick-size one and $100 for a 12-inch-square one. For more information about purchasing a paver telephone the municipal building at 732- 988-5200.
Bernadette Sherman, who was one of the proponents of creating the park, lost her 27-year-old son, Army Sergeant Stephen Sherman, on Feb. 3, 2005 in Iraq when an improvised explosive device went off near his truck on a road in Mosul.
Sherman told Tuesday’s audience that she remembers the day two soldiers came to her house and delivered the news that her son was dead and the effect it had on others as well.
But, she said, now there is the new veteran’s park.
“You have turned an historic piece of land into a memorial for these heroes and to every broken heart they left behind. There will be some peace among these monuments and flags,” she said.
The new park will have four, half-circular walls, each representing a branch of the military service and will list the names of Neptune residents who died in various wars.
The tract was originally the Wardell dairy- the oldest-operating dairy in Monmouth County- until it closed after merging with Welsh Farms in 1975. It is the largest undeveloped tract on Old Corlies Avenue and has been vacant for a number of years.