The food was great, the crowd was large and happy, and the Armed Forces Day celebration hosted by the Burke Motor Group was a good day for all who attended. Donations collected at the event are still being counted for a new van to transport veterans to medical facilities locally and regionally. Burke Motor Group pledged $10,000 in matching funds toward the purchase.
All of the area service organizations were represented at the event and local representatives, including Cong. Frank LoBiondo, State Sen. Jeff Van Drew and Assemblyman Bob Andrzejczak, Middle Township Mayor Tim Donohue and Committeeman Michael Clark, were on hand for the festivities.
WIBG's "Welcome Home Show" was broadcast live from the event. Among the guests joining co-hosts Joe Griffies and Ed Cubbage were former U.S. Ambassador Theresa Anne Tull; Thomas Collins, founder and president of the Forgotten Warriors Vietnam Museum at the Cape May Airport; Johnny Walker, Commander of DAV Chapter 44, and Trudy Corma, whose son, 24-year-old 1st Lt. Salvatore S. Corma, II, was killed in action in Afghanistan in 2010. A 2008 graduate of West Point currently under consideration for the Medal of Honor, he was buried at the West Point Cemetery, where his father Salvatore, an Air Force veteran, also is buried.
Ambassador Tull, a native of Runnemede, N.J., was Charge d'Affaires at the embassy in Laos from 1983 to 1986 and then served as Ambassador to Guyana from 1987 to 1990. A graduate of Rutgers University, she joined the State Department's Foreign Service in 1963 and served in the U.S. Embassy in Brussels, Belgium, until 1967, when she was posted to Saigon, Vietnam. She remained there until just before the North Vietnamese took control of that country. The rest, as they say, "is history."
But it was not the end of the road for Ambassador Tull. In addition to her posts in Guyana and Laos, she also served in the Philipines and, in 1993, was the sworn in as U.S. Ambassador to Brunei, which shares the large island of Borneo with Indonesia to the south and Malaysia to the east and west. She was there until 1996, when she retired after 33 years with the State Department in a career that literally took her all over the world. It's a fascinating story told well in her autobiography, "A Long Way from Runnemede, One Woman's Foreign Service Journey."