Another Fair Haven Knollwood School alumnus has taken his place on the Wall of Honor
A photo unveiling ceremony was held at Knollwood on June 20 to honor Matthew (“Matt”) Valko, a 2010 graduate. Matt, a member of the Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School (RFH) Class of 2014, has completed his U.S. Marine Corps boot camp training and is headed to the Combat Division at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.
Matt’s photo is now among those of other Knollwood graduates who are serving their country in the armed forces. Located in the main hallway of the school, the Wall of Honor was commissioned in 2011 by co-chairs Betsy Koch, a Knollwood eighth grade science teacher, and Joe Perrotto, a Fair Haven resident who served in the U.S. Marine Corps.
Matt was joined at the unveiling ceremony by family members as well as supporters from the community. Among those present at the ceremony were Perrotto and Koch, Fair Haven Mayor Ben Lucarelli, Fair Haven Superintendent of Schools Sean McNeil, Knollwood School Principal Amy Romano, and former Fair Haven Board of Education member Katy Badt Frissora.
Also in attendance, offering a show of support and solidarity, was longtime resident and former Fair Haven Police officer Fred Dispensiere, who joined the U.S. Marine Corps in 1968, not long after his 1967 graduation from RFH.
Dispensiere volunteered in 1969 for a tour of duty in the Republic of South Vietnam. He spent 13 months with the 7th Marine Regiment of the 1st Marine Division, primarily in the Que Son Valley southwest of DaNang, and based at Landing Zone Baldy (also known as Hill 63).
After completing his tour he was ordered to Camp Pendleton, California where he finished his active duty training Marine recruits and received his honorable discharge in 1974. He also served as a color and honor guard for the Commandant of the Marine Corps and President Richard Nixon during his tour of duty, an honor given to only a select few servicemen.
Perrotto addressed the crowd prior to the unveiling of Matt’s photo by Koch.
“These graduates have made the decision to serve their country, and as long as this display is here they shall not be forgotten and their sacrifice and service not taken for granted,” he said. “It is also important to remember that the graduates on this display are not the only ones making sacrifices. The parents, family, and friends of these young men will suffer emotional highs and lows as their loved ones serve their country in a very dangerous world. It is with great pride that the Wall of Honor Committee recognizes our newest hero Matthew Murray Valko. May God bless him and keep him safe! Congratulations and Semper Fi Matthew!”
The Wall of Honor was made possible with funding from the Knollwood School Student Council and was designed and built by Rick Robbins, Supervisor of Buildings and Grounds.
Matt’s photo will remain on display for the duration of his service on active duty. Knollwood graduates currently featured on the Wall of Honor are:
· Christopher Richards, Class of 2000, U.S. Navy
· Joel Hyduke, Class of 2001, West Point Graduate, U.S. Army
· Kenneth Ebner, Class of 2005, West Point Graduate, U.S. Army
· Christopher Hoffer, Class of 2006, U.S. Air Force
· Brendan Reiss, Class of 2007, U.S. Army
· Brian Truex, Class of 2008, U.S. Navy
· Keegan Finn, Class of 2008, U.S. Marine Corps
· Matthew Murray Valko, Class of 2010, U.S. Marine Corps
· Anthony Sciametta, Class of 2011, U.S. Army
· Joseph McGovern, Jr., Class of 2012, U.S. Marine Corps
Adjacent to the Wall of Honor is a plaque bearing the names of Knollwood School graduates who have completed their service. Made possible by the support of American Legion Post 168 in Red Bank, this plaque features:
· Craig Cannon, Class of 1984, U.S. Army
· Joshua Zager, Class of 1985, U.S. Marine Corps
· Scott Beattie, Class of 1991, U.S. Army
· Shaun Foley, Class of 1996, U.S. Marine Corps
· Matthew Perrotto, Class of 1999, U.S. Army
· Wayne Coy, Class of 1999, U.S. Marine Corps
· Will Miller, Class of 2001, U.S. Army
· Michael Humphreys, Class of 2003, U.S. Army
· Bobby DeCanio, Class of 2004, U.S. Marine Corps
Matt, an Eagle Scout from Troop 125, resides in Fair Haven with his father Dr. Peter Valko, his mother Madelyne, his brother P.J., and his sister Carly.
— Edited press release from the Fair Haven School District