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Freeholders Award Distinguished Military Service Medals to Morris County Veterans

MORRISTOWN, NJ (Morris County) – The Morris County Freeholders on Wednesday evening presented Morris County Distinguished Military Service Medals to eight veterans from across the county, honoring these men and women as we approach Veterans’ Day on Nov. 11, for their service to our country and their communities after their days in the military.

Receiving county medals were: (see the video)

Mohammed Abdul Aziz, U.S. Army, of Rockaway Township is a native of Bangladesh, who went to college in Bangalore, India. He joined the Army as a Specialist in 2009 and was stationed with the 1st Armor Division, Special Troops Battalion at Wiesbaden, Germany.

Mohammed received the Army Commendation Medal for exceptionally meritorious service. While serving in Army he became a naturalized U.S. citizen.  He earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Information Systems Management from NYU in 2015 and was hired as a civilian computer scientist with the Army at Picatinny Arsenal.

Said Mohammed: “I truly believe that serving in the Army helped me to build my career. So, I would like to thank the U.S. Army for giving me the opportunity to serve this country, and also special thanks to Morris County for honoring me.

Leonard Gleason, U.S. Army, of Morristown is a World War II era veteran who grew up in Jersey City and worked for Curtis Wright, making airplane parts for the military, prior to enlisting in the U.S. Army in 1946.

He was stationed in Japan as part of the Japan Occupation Army and served under General Douglas MacArthur, in charge of truck convoys to MacArthur’s headquarters. Leonard received the Army of Occupation Medal and the World War II Victory Medal.

Back in the States, he earned a Business Degree at Rutgers and Master’s Degree in Hospital Administration at Pace University. Leonard was employed for many years as a hospital administrator, manager of urgent care centers, and in pharmaceutical sales.

His wife, Elaine, says: “Leonard is the proudest veteran you ever will meet.’’ He celebrated his 92nd birthday on Wednesday.

Kim Hawkins, U.S. Navy, of Jefferson Township grew up in St. Louis, signed up for the U.S. Navy in 1985. She got hydraulics and flight training at bases in Tennessee, Florida and Texas. At Naval Air Station Miramar in San Diego, she was trained to fix and fly F-14’s.

Kim served in Gulf War I- Desert Shield/Desert Storm, and had deployments on board the USS Carl Vinson, USS Enterprise, USS Ranger and USS Forrestal. Her awards include Sharp Shooter, South East Asia Medal, Good Conduct Medal, Cold War Defense Certification.

In her post-war career, Kim is a graduate of Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Clown College, earned degrees in animation, fine arts, and acting, and worked as an animator for major film studios.

She also has been an interpretive Park Ranger in Acadia National Park, Yosemite National Park and Point Reyes National Seashore.

James Hill, U.S. Air Force, of Jefferson Township grew up in the U.S. and Germany as the son of an Air Force service member, graduating from Kaiserslautern American High School in Germany.

During the Vietnam War, he served with the 22nd Tactical Air Support Squadron at Tan Son Nhut Air Force Base and ran missions out of Tay Ninh Airfield. He also served with the 99th Air Refueling Squadron of the 99th Bomb Wing at Westover Air Force Base in Massachusetts. Among his medals is the Air Medal with 5 Oak Leaf Clusters.

Mr. Hill earned a Bachelor’s of Arts Degree from Davis and Elkins College and Master’s Degree in Education from the University of Massachusetts.

Post-military, he was Assistant Director of the Marshall-Jackson Mental Health Center in Scottsboro, Alabama, and later was a counselor at Passaic Valley Regional High School and Passaic County Technical and Vocational High School.

Donna M. Scheel, U.S. Army, of Budd Lake, grew up in Orchard Park, N.Y. and attended the State University of New York at Plattsburg, where she earned a BA in Communications, and later earned a Master’s Degree in Media and Technology at Boston University.

Donna joined the US Army in October in 1977 and trained as a broadcast journalist. She was assigned to the headquarters of the American Forces Network in Frankfurt, Germany, and later at the Fort Gordon, Ga., Public Affairs Office.

Her citations include Army Commendation Medal, Good Conduct Medal, Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon, NCO Professional Development Ribbon, German Army Marksmanship Badge in Bronze.

Following her service, Donna worked for 17 years with the NJ Department of Labor and Workforce Development as a Disabled Veteran Outreach Program interviewer. She currently is Director for the U.S. Department of Labor Veterans’ Employment and Training.

She was married for 41 years to the late Steven M. Scheel, who was a Vietnam War veteran

The late Steven M. Scheel, U.S. Army, of Budd Lake grew up as the son of an Air Force officer and lived all over the world, eventually graduating from Englewood High School.

After entering the Army, he trained as a flight operations coordinator and deployed to Vietnam in 1968-69. He later served in Korea. For his service, he was awarded the Vietnam Campaign Medal with 60 Device, Army Commendation Medal, Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, and Vietnam Cross of Gallantry with Palm.

After Korea, he went to the Defense Information School to become a broadcast journalist and was stationed at the American Forces Network Headquarters in Frankfurt, Germany and Fort Gordon, Georgia, among others.

After the service, Steven earned a BA in history and a Master’s Degree in Education, worked at commercial radio stations, and later worked with students who could not attend normal school classes. His last job was with the N.J. Department of Labor and Workforce Development.

He was married for more than 41 years to his loving wife, Donna, before he lost his battle to his wartime exposure to Agent Orange.

Connor Scheel, the grandson of the late Steve H. Scheel, accepted the county medal on behalf of his late grandfather.

Todd Stawicki, U.S. Army, of Roxbury grew up in Bridgewater and went to Bridgewater-Raritan High School. After graduating in 2004, he attended the U.S. Military Academy.

Todd was commissioned as an Infantry Officer. He served in the Army for 7½ years with one deployment to Iraq in 2009-2010, and one deployment to Afghanistan in 2013. He also was stationed at Fort Benning, Georgia; Fort Riley, Kansas; and Fort Hood, Texas.

He was awarded the Army Commendation medal four times; Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Iraq Army Campaign Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Army Service Ribbon, two Overseas Ribbons, NATO Medal; Combat Action Badge, Parachutist Badge and Air Assault Badge.

After leaving the Army, Todd became a project manager at Panasonic in 2014, and he recently accepted a position at WisEngineering as a program manager, working at Picatinny Arsenal.

Samuel J. Susco, Jr., U.S. Army, of Mine Hill grew up in Dover and was a graduate of the class of 1963 at Dover High School. Just 10 days after turning 21, he entered the U.S Army.

A graduate of Armor School at Fort Knox, he was a member of Headquarters Company 69th Armor and deployed to Vietnam for 18 months. He was stationed in Pleiku, Cu Chi, and Saigon before coming home in 1967.

Post-military, he worked for Airtron in Morris Plains, where he was employed for 25 years, and later ended his career with 10 years in the Mendham School District. Today, Sam says he mostly keeps busy helping take care of three wonderful grandchildren: Nathan, Ellie, and Juliana.

Also honored was Marine Corps veteran Emerson Crooks of Randolph, who served in Vietnam in the 1960s. He received a special county resolution in connection with the 244th birthday of the U.S. Marine Corps.

In addition, Morris County American Legion Commander Amery Vasso received a special county resolution marking the 100th anniversary of the American Legion.

“To all of our veterans, we say: Thank you!,’’ said Freeholder Director Doug Cabana. “For all veterans, regardless of your service and the era in which you served, you have paid a price for the freedom we enjoy. You have paid with your courage and honor.  We salute you for your service.’’

Each of the eight 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 special state citations from Assemblywoman DeCroce, representing the 26th Legislative District, and from Assemblyman Anthony Bucco, from the 25th Legislative District, plus certificates from County Clerk Grossi, Sheriff Gannon and a special item from Prosecutor Knapp.

(Photo: (l/r) Prosecutor Fredric M. Knapp, County Clerk Ann Grossi, Sheriff’s Detective Lt. Michael Turkot, Freeholder Director Doug Cabana, Freeholder Stephen Shaw, Air Force veteran Kim Hawkins, Freeholder Deborah Smith, Army veteran Samuel J. Susco, (rear) Army veteran Mohammed Abdul Aziz, (front-seated) Army veteran Leonard Gleason, Army veteran Donna Scheel, (front) Connor Scheel, (rear) Army veteran Todd Stawicki, Air Force veteran James Hill, Marine Corps veteran Emerson Crooks, Freeholders John Krickus and Heather Darling, Assemblywoman BettyLou DeCroce, and Freeholder Kathy DeFillippo.)

Jay Edwards

Born and raised in Northwest NJ, Jay has a degree in Communications and has had a life-long interest in local radio and various styles of music. Jay has held numerous jobs over the years such as stunt car driver, bartender, voice-over artist, traffic reporter (award winning), NY Yankee maintenance crewmember and peanut farm worker. His hobbies include mountain climbing, snowmobiling, cooking, performing stand-up comedy and he is an avid squirrel watcher. Jay has been a guest on America’s Morning Headquarters,program on The Weather Channel, and was interviewed by Sam Champion.

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