Congressman Pascrell Visits Montclair State University To Announce Dedication Of New On-Campus Construction To Decorated World War II Hero, U.S. Marine Corps Gunnery Sergeant John Basilone
MONTCLAIR – In anticipation of Veterans’ Day, U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-NJ-8) visited Montclair State University (MSU) today to announce the dedication of new on-campus residence hall construction to the memory of decorated World War II hero, U.S. Marine Corps Gunnery Sgt. John Basilone. The former Raritan resident was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor, gave his life for his country during World War II, and his bravery was documented in the HBO series, “The Pacific.”
“On the eve of Veterans’ Day, I cannot think of a more deserving New Jerseyan for us to be celebrating and commemorating," said U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ-8), who championed the naming of the facility after Sgt. Basilone with MSU students as well as local veterans groups. “Sgt. Basilone’s legacy is one of valor, courage, and patriotism that cannot easily be matched. Thank you to the students, faculty, and Montclair State University community for choosing to honor such a great American. I know students who will live in this residence hall will revere Sergeant Basilone’s memory for years to come.”
During his remarks, Rep. Pascrell acknowledged two Marines, Corporal Daniel Koehler and Corporal Amanda Kuchta, who are enrolled at Montclair State University with the help of the federal Post 9-11 GI Bill. The legislation, passed by the 111th Congress with Rep. Pascrell’s support, covers the full cost of education at any public school in the country and many private schools for veterans who have served in the armed forces after Sept. 11, 2001.
“Sgt. Basilone made the ultimate sacrifice for his country and we honor him. But there are so many men and women who are prepared to fight in defense of our great country, and are willing to make the same sacrifice,” said Pascrell. “Because our veterans are willing to give of their futures when they put on a uniform, we owe them no less than to help them create their futures when they return from active duty.”
Montclair State University is currently constructing an on-campus resident hall complex known as The Heights. The buildings of the complex are comprised of different wings that will bear the name of prominent New Jerseyans. University officials decided to let students vote upon which New Jerseyans should be honored.
Through September and October, Rep. Pascrell championed the cause of the residence hall wing being named after Sgt. Basilone. He worked with student groups on MSU's campus – including the student government and the school’s newspaper, “The Montclairion” – to promote the idea that the new wing should be named after the Jersey war hero.
Rep. Pascrell also worked with veterans' groups off-campus including the Passaic County Veterans Services Department and its director Tom Miller, as well as Mike Granata of the Belleville Disabled Veterans Post. Rep. Pascrell returned to MSU's campus on Homecoming Weekend when you led impassioned supporters to distribute flyers urging students to vote for Sgt. John Basilone as the namesake of the new residence hall wing.
The result was a decisive majority of MSU students voting for the building’s wing to be named after Sgt. Basilone.
Rep. Pascrell has worked for previous honors for Sgt. Basilone. For four years, the congressman worked to get U.S. Postal Service approval of a postage stamp in Sgt. Basilone’s honor. The stamp was dedicated on November 19, 2005.