Byram celebrates Memorial Day with parade

Community remembers those who gave all

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  • Photo by Glynnis Jones Three-year old twins Michael and Mackenzie Geller of Byram wave their American flags as the parade passes them. For more photos go to page 2.

  • Photos by Glynnis Jones Joseph Picatello, Aiden McCoy, and Robert Swiencki of Byram's Scout Troop 276 raising and lowering the flag as two of Byrams vets look on during the ceremony at the Byram Veterans Memorial in front of the Roseville School House.

  • Byram's town council and young royalty take part in the 2014 Byram Memorial Day parade on Rt 206.

  • Seven year old Abby Coppolella and her three year old brother Hunter wait along Rt 206 with family and other residents for the parade to pass by.

  • The POW/MIA and American Flags held over Cranberry Lake during the 2014 Memorial Day ceremony to honor local residents from all branches of the military, Police, Fire, and Emergency Squads.

  • Samantha Lauridsen of the Lenape Valley High School Marching Patriots holds the flag she waved during the 2014 Byram Memorial Day parade on Rt 206.

  • Thomas Paprota, 16, Vinny Molinari, 14 and Michael Serpico 15 of Scout Troop 151 lay the wreath on Cranberry Lake during the Memorial Day ceremonies in Byram.

  • Trucks and engnies from Byram's Volunteer Fire Department take part in the 2014 Byram Memorial Day parade on Rt 206.

By Glynnis Jones

Residents gathered at the Byram's Veterans Memorial at the Roseville School House for the first of two ceremonies to honor the fallen men and women from the military as well as those who have served the community.

Residents, council members, scouts, and police listened as Judge Richard A. Bowe presided and eloquently spoke about the dedication and sacrifices that are recognized every year on Memorial Day.

During both ceremonies a special mention was made this year for local resident David Ashton Williams, Jr., formerly of Byram, who died in February. Williams, who earned numerous medals, including the Flying Cross, served for 28 years in the US Marine Corps and the US Army Air National Guard and was a Medivac Pilot in Vietnam.

Once home, he served as a Presidential Helicopter Commander in Marine Helicopter Squadron One as well as becoming a member and Commandant of the Sussex County Marine Corps League, Jeffrey S. Patterson Detachment 747 and a District 9 Vice Commandant for the State of NJ. He was actively involved in his home community as well, coaching in the midget football league and Hobb Engler Baseball and was a 20-year member of the Byram Township Fire Department.

"I always used to tell him that he was my personal hero," Judge Bowe recalled of Williams. "He would laugh at that, but, I really meant it. He was everything a hero should be, including humble. To me, he was an amazing guy."

Byram Mayor Jim Oscovitch had also known Williams his entire life, getting to know him while their fathers were on the Byram Fire Department together.

"You would never know he was as a decorated veteran as he was," said Oscovitch. "As we heard Judge Bowe say in his speech, he flew the President of the United States on Marine One and what an honor that was. I don't think you get that by accident. He (and his wife) were good people, kind people — the kind you like to call your friends."

Following Judge Bowe's address, Oscovitch also paid tribute to the fallen. Beginning with the quote, "The silence of a dead soldier sings our National Anthem" — the gripping words by Aaron Kilbourn were found while preparing his speech for the Memorial Day ceremonies.

"I don't think anything else speaks the truth of the honor of a dead soldier," Oscovitch said.

Joseph Picatello, Aiden McCoy, and Robert Swiencki of Byram's Scout Troop 276 then performed the ceremonial duties of raising and lowering the flag while the crowd remained silent and vets in attendance held their salute. All three scouts enjoyed the responsibility.

"It is a real honor to help raise the American flag in honor of fallen soldiers," Picatello said.

"I felt great participating in raising and lowering the flags," McCoy added.

Swiencki summed up his feelings by saying, "It really makes me feel good to help our veterans honor fallen soldiers and their friends."

Shortly thereafter, the audience made their way to Route 206, fanning out from the Byram Fire Station to the shores of Cranberry Lake to join the hundreds of spectators lining the street for the parade and wreath laying ceremony.

The larger ceremony held the attention of the crowd with a ring of the bell from retired Firefighter Bill Vonminden after every name was read, which included the fallen military heroes and then local residents who had died that had served the community through the fire department, police department, Lakeland Emergency Squad, and Byram FD Ladies Auxiliary.

The ceremony ended with tradition when three members of Boy Scout Troop 151 rowed along the shore of Cranberry Lake in a canoe and gently placed a wreath of red, white, and blue flowers into the water as a symbol of remembrance as bugler Zach LaFerge, played "Taps" from the Cranberry Lake bridge.

For more photos visit

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