Recognizing those who go ‘above and beyond’

VFW hosted the ceremony on April 27.

Courtesy of Mantua Township
Police and firefighters were among those cited at the VFW’s annual community awards last month.

Several people in various categories were recognized and rewarded for their contributions to the community at the Mantua VFW’s community awards on April 27.

The VFW named its outstanding police officer of the year, Sgt. Brian Crispin; the Gloucester County EMT of the year, Charles “Chuck” Jones; firefighter of the year, Nate Conley; police explorer of the year, Rorey Newcomb Dross; teacher of the year Jackie Warker; and citizens of the year, Ron and Pam Pontano.

- Advertisement -

Veterans Commission chairman Joe Heitman presented plaques to each of the winners and also spoke during the awards.

“They deserve to be recognized,” he said. “This all started a few years ago, when we began dedicating it to people in the community who go above and beyond what’s expected of them.”

The Pontanos host twice-yearly South Jersey Honor Flight trips, a national initiative that provides free transportation to Washington, D.C., for military vets – mainly from World War II, Korea and Vietnam – to explore the war memorials there. The Pontanos are helped by volunteers from Williamstown High School, where they teach.

“There was probably a couple hundred people from Williamstown High,” noted Heitman. “They (the Pontanos) are just fabulous people.”

The Mantua committee and Mayor Robert Zimmerman were also in attendance at the awards ceremony.

“The township committee and I are thrilled to be a part of the VFW’s Community Awards ceremony each year, and to be able to help celebrate the incredible work of the recipients who went above and beyond the call of duty for our community,” the mayor said.

Heitman noted that events like the community awards are not only good for the community, but also the VFW itself.

“It’s important because some of these people, like the police explorers, aren’t paid for what they do,” he explained. “It’s also good for the VFW, since it helps dispel the image that we’re just another bar. We want to promote the image that we’re a part of the community.

“We have an honor guard that participates in different events, like the Memorial Day parade,” Heitman added. “This and the awards ceremony areour opportunity to show we care about our municipality and county.”

- Advertisment -