MORRISTOWN, NJ (Morris County) – The Morris County Freeholders on Wednesday evening presented Morris County Distinguished Military Service Medals to seven veterans from across the county, honoring these men and women as we approach Veterans’ Day on Sunday, for their service to our country and their communities during and after their days in the military.
Honored at a special ceremony in Morristown were:
- Timothy Burns, U.S. Army, Wharton;
- Thomas A. DiDomenico, U.S. Air Force, East Hanover;
- Armando Gutierrez, U.S. Navy, Washington Township;
- Craig Hyson, U.S. Army, Rockaway Borough;
- Bonita (Bonnie) Sue Pyler, U.S. Navy, Morris Township
- Donald W. Robinson, U.S. Navy, Mount Olive;
- (the late) Harold Weasner, U.S. Navy, Roxbury;
“To all of our veterans, we have a simple and heartfelt message: Thank you!’’ said Deputy Freeholder Director Christine Myers. “For all veterans, regardless of their service and the era in which they have served, they have paid a price for the freedom we enjoy. They have paid with their courage and honor. We salute you for your service.’’
Also attending the veterans’ event were state Sen. Tony Bucco, state Assemblymen Anthony Bucco, Morris County Sheriff James M. Gannon, and County Clerk Ann Grossi.
Each of the seven veterans, or their families, at the event received the Morris County Distinguished Military Service Medal from the Board of Freeholders. The unique medal was designed by a special committee of county veterans, with some variations in medals and ribbons for various conflicts and military eras.
They also received a special state citation from the attending legislators and a certificate from Sheriff Gannon.
The following is a snapshot of the military service of each recipient:
- Timothy Burns of Wharton: The Staten Island native joined the Navy in 1965 at age 17, went to basic training at the Great Lake Training Camp in Illinois, and received advanced training as a radio operator in Bainbridge, Maryland. He was assigned to the U.S.S. Fred T. Berry, DD858 Destroyer Squadron 10 in the Atlantic Fleet and later as part of the 7th Fleet in Vietnam. He served an extended tour of duty in combat areas surrounding South Vietnam, and those duties included shore bombardment fire support missions and aid to swift boat units. After his military service, Tim joined another team, New York’s Finest, and worked for the New York City Fire Department.
- Thomas DiDomenico of East Hanover: Grew up in Little Falls and graduated from Passaic Valley High School in 1965. Just five 5-months later, in November of 1965, he enlisted in the Air Force. He attended Jet Mechanic Training through 1966, and was stationed at Luke Air Force Base in Glendale, Arizona, as an Assistant Crew Chief from 1966-67. In 1967, he was deployed to Vietnam. He was stationed at Phan Rang Air Force Base in Vietnam from 1967-68 as a crew chief for the F-100 Super Sabre Fighter. His duty was to keep the aircraft ready to fly 24/7. In 1968-69, he was stationed at Beale Air Force Base in California as a mechanic on the SR-71 Blackbird Reconnaissance Aircraft. He was honorably discharged in February 1969, and post-military worked as a longshoreman at Port Elizabeth.
- Armando Gutierrez of Washington Township: Raised in Millburn, and an athlete at Millburn High School, he was inducted into the U.S. Navy in 1963, and went to basic training at San Diego Radio Training School. He was deployed to Kodiak Alaska for two years, answering radio messages for U.S. Navy fleet in the Pacific. The Radioman Second Class later served on the U.S.S. Washburn in Vietnam, assisting U.S. Marine amphibious operations. Armando received the Vietnam Service Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, and the Republic of Vietnam Medal and was honorably discharged in 1970.
- Craig Hyson of Rockaway Borough: Grew up in Jefferson Township, and graduated from Morris Hills High School. He went to basic training and military police training at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri in 1998, and has served in many of the world’s hot spots. He deployed to Kosovo in 2001, Iraq in 2003 and 2006, Afghanistan in 2012-13; Guantanamo Bay, Cuba in 2014-15; and to Iraq and Kuwait in 2017-18. Currently, he is the Command Sgt. for the 436th Transportation Battalion at Fort Wadsworth, Staten Island. His military awards include a Bronze Star with one Oak Leaf Cluster and the Meritorious Service Medal with One Oak Leaf Cluster. In his post-military life, he is a Sgt. with the New Jersey State Police.
- Bonita (Bonnie) Sue Pyler of Morris Township: A 30-year Commissioned Officer in uniformed services, she retired at the rank of Captain from the U.S. Public Health Service. She joined the U.S. Air Force as a staff nurse and hospital supervisor from 1977-1980, and later served four years as a U.S. Navy Nurse Officer FNP at Patuxent River Naval Air Test Station in Maryland. Her last uniformed services position was as the U.S. Public Health Service Federal Emergency Coordinator for Region II. Pyler, who has a Doctoral Degree, is a long-time Family Nurse Practitioner. She has used her skills for the Navy, Air Force, federal Health Service; federal Dept. of Health and Human Services, and in civilian positions. She currently is the volunteer Vice-President of the Morris Township Board of Health, a volunteer with the American Red Cross as a Blood Ambassador; and she is the immediate past President of the New Jersey Bee Keepers Association.
- Donald Robinson of Mt. Olive: Born in Newark, he grew up in nearby Irvington and is a graduate of the Irvington High School. He enlisted in the U.S. Naval Reserve in April of 1957, and served two years of active duty, from May 1958 to May 1960. He was assigned to the Construction Battalion Atlantic staff in Davisville, Rhode Island in 1958-59, and through June of 1960 he was involved in support activities at Davisville and with Naval Air Facility refueling at McMurdo Sound on the southern tip of New Zealand. He returned to the Reserves in 1960, drilling at Port Newark, Clifton, NAS Willow Grove, Pa. and Allentown, Pa., and was promoted to the rank of Chief Petty Officer. He was discharged from the Naval Reserves in 1978. But he was not done with the military. He subsequently enlisted in the New Jersey National Guard, serving for two years, then joined the U.S. Army Reserves from 1981-83.
- Harold Weasner of Roxbury: Grew up in Seymour, Indiana, attended Indiana University and got his Masters in Psychology at the University of Virginia. He was a Navy veteran of World War II AND the Korean War. From 1945 to 1949, he served on the USS Topeka, USS Bremerton, USS Chicago, and the USS Turner. His service took him to Guam, the Philippines, Okinawa and mainland Japan. During the Korean War, he was stationed on the USS Robinson, a destroyer, from June 1951 to Sept 1952. In post military life, he worked at Picatinny Arsenal for 37 years as an engineer. With his loving wife of 64 years, Marie, and later with daughters, Linda and Karla, he traveled the USA and the world. His wife, Marie, escorted by Sheriff Gannon, received her late husband’s county medal.