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  • Writer's pictureKaren Brittingham-Edmond

NWS Earle NJ Held A Black History Commemoration For Local Colored Troops From The Civil War & Beyond

Updated: Feb 11, 2023

The Naval Weapons Station (N.W.S.) located at the Earl Navy Base in Monmouth County, New Jersey, held a "Commemoration & Celebration Of Our Local Black American Service Members' Past, Present, & Future" at the serene Naval Weapons Station Earle Chapel on Feb 1, 2023, at 11:00 A.M. Family members who are the direct descendants of

  • Pine Brook Church Cemetery,

  • Shadow Rest Burial Ground, plus

  • Ruffin Private Family Cemetery

Were in attendance to witness the honoring of family members who served gallantly in the military. Neptune High School N.J. R.O.T.C. Color Guard was present, as well as many Navy service men and women. Plus, Borough of Tinton Falls Council Member Tracy A. Buckley and Trustee Carl Bowles of St. Thomas A.M.E. Zion of Tinton Falls. The inspirational spark behind the service was Susan Chapman Newsome, who thought somebody should know and acknowledge Black service members from the area for February 2023. The service was honorable. And everything was done decently and in order. Mr. Joe Eppolito sang the national anthem. And invocation was presented by Lt. Pinzel. Plus, Captain Callahan gave opening remarks.

Family members shed tears as their loved ones were honored. They held their family members' honorary flags that they could place on servicemen's graves. Or to keep as a reflection of this unique opportunity to celebrate and share the story with children and grandchildren of relatives who crossed over to the other side. But with whom their family and the United States Military have not forgotten. Lt. Lindsey, Installation Security Officer, invited distinguished guests in to sit. Lt. Lindsey extended a warm welcome to all of the descendants and family members of The Local United States Colored Troop Service Members who were laid to rest at Pine Brook Cemetary on Ruffin Court in Tinton Falls, N.J. (Btw: "Color" people was a term utilized in the late 1800s to 1950 when referring to Black citizens who were also called Afro-Americans and Negros.)

Chief Lamar Johnson

Chief Lamar Johnson read the "Color Troop Service Members" names referred to as "Remarkable African American Trailblazers who have left an enduring legacy by igniting a desire for hope and change.

Those servicemen are:

Alfred J. Berry, Pvt. 41st Co A

George H. Bowles, Pvt. 22nd Infantry

G.H. Collins, Pvt. 19th Infantry

Rev. James G. Palmer, Company I, 6th Infantry

James Pinion, Cprl. 1st Calvary, U.S. Army

Roland Polhamus, 22nd Infantry

Oliver Reed, Pvt. 9th Infantry

Edward Shemo, Pvt. 41st Infantry

Chas C. Vincent, Pvt. Co D, 23rd Infantry

Adam Berry, Pvt. H.Q. Co 367th Infantry

William H. Manuel, Sup Co, 367th Infantry

Lewis Henry Robinson, WWI Veteran, MA First Class U.S. Navy WWII

Leroy Rock, Pfc. H.Q. Co 807th Pioneer Infantry WWI (My Grandfather)

James A. Smith, Pfc. Co 807th Pioneer Infantry WWI

Thomas J. Nesbitt, Seaman First Class U.S. Navy WWII

William Reed, US Navy WWII

Monroe Rock, Pfc. U.S. Army, Korean War Veteran *

Pelvin C. "Buddy" Rogers, Pvt. Co A 758th Heavy Tank B, U.S. Army WWII

As Chief Lamar Johnson read Color Troop Members' names, the Neptune High School Reserved Officers in Training Corps (N.J.R.O.T.C.) solemnly rang the military bell. At the same time, memorial flags were presented to family members. These were a few of the local Colored Service Men who were laid to rest at Pine Brook Cemetery. Although many markers have eroded and some information regarding these service men has been lost over time, it is the Naval Weapons Station (N.W.S.) located at the Earl Navy Base in Monmouth County, New Jersey, that this ceremony serves as a tribute to them and their family legacy. Chief Lamar Johnson further shared, "By reflecting upon the African principle of Ubuntu, which means I AM, BECAUSE YOU ARE."

At the end of the ceremony, Johnson encouraged all attendees to celebrate their family members' valiant efforts. He said that the Naval Weapon Station of Earle gratefully remembers these brave soldiers' victories. On and off of the battlefield because Civil War Veterans, WWI, WWII Veterans, and Korean War Veterans buried at Pine Brook Sacred Burial Grounds paved the way for current service members like himself and those yet to come. And we must always remember that.

Neptune High School N.J.R.O.T.C. Ringing Bell

After the ceremony, a sweet peace filled the room as family members were dismissed and mingled with the military elite and the like. As historic Pine Brook Cemetary, families gathered together and reflected on families who have passed over to the other side of this life's journey. Plus concerned in regards to the state of the current cemeteries crisis.

Susan Chapman-Newsom (pic ctr) with a family member of a local Colored Troops Servicemen with a service man handing her a flag.

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