By Eric Kowal, Picatinny Arsenal Public AffairsJune 8, 2013
PICATINNY ARSENAL, N.J. -- Picatinny Arsenal officials honored eight New Jersey-connected service members who lost their lives in 2012 while serving in the U.S. Armed Forces in Afghanistan during a private ceremony earlier today.
Eight fallen servicemembers were memorialized with red oak trees in memory of each warfighter.
The trees are part of Picatinny's tree memorial honoring all New Jersey-connected service members who died during the nation's overseas contingency operations.
Officials here unveiled the memorial in 2008, dedicating 119 red oaks to war fighters who had lost their lives through 2007. The tradition has continued and each successive spring, fallen service members from the previous year are honored similarly. A total of 170 memorial trees are now planted on the installation in memory of New Jerseyans.
The red oak, the official state tree, represents the selfless sacrifice the service members willingly made for their country.
This year the following servicemembers were recognized:
Cpl. Kevin J. Reinhard, U.S. Marine Corps, Colonia, N.J.
Lance Cpl. Osbrany Montes De Oca, U.S. Marine Corps, North Arlington, N.J.
Staff Sgt. Joseph D'Augustine, U.S. Marine Corps, Waldrick, N.J.
Pfc. LeRoy DeRonde III, U.S. Army, Jersey City, N.J.
Staff Sgt. Raul M. Guerra, U.S. Army, Union City, N.J.
Spc. Jonathan Batista, U.S. Army, Kinnelon, N.J.
Petty Officer 2nd Class Matthew G. Kantor, U.S. Army, Gillette, N.J.
Cpl. Christopher M. Monahan Jr., U.S. Army, Island Heights, N.J.
Picatinny Arsenal's Commanding General, Brig. Gen. John J. McGuiness officiated the ceremony. Also in attendance was the Honorable Robert J. Maguire, New Jersey's Civilian Aide to the Honorable John M. McHugh, Secretary of the Army, and the Honorable Anthony R. Bucco, Assemblyman representing New Jersey's 25th Legislative District.
In speaking to families and friends of the fallen heroes in attendance McGuiness said, "your strength and courage are an inspiration to us all. As Americans it is important that we pay tribute to those that made the ultimate sacrifice."
Citing an inscription at the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial, McGuiness said, "Think not upon their passing, remember the glory of their spirit."
The ceremony also included a color guard and a bagpipe salute. Afterward, family members and guests visited the memorial sites.