Once again, members of the Fair Haven school community have honored a local graduate serving in the armed forces.
The Knollwood School Wall of Honor Committee held a photo unveiling ceremony on Dec. 29 for Pierson Dey, U.S. Army. Pierson is a member of the Knollwood School Class of ’13, Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School Class of ’17, and has participated in the Fair Haven Future Firefighters program.
On Dec. 31, Pierson traveled to Fort Campbell, Kentucky for Air Assault and Airborne training with the 101stAirborne Division. In March, he will head to the Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk, Louisiana. He will deploy in April.
Special Guest Speaker at the photo unveiling ceremony for Pierson was Army veteran Darryl Breckenridge, former Police Chief of the Borough of Fair Haven. A former Fair Haven Fire Chief, Breckenridge is a charter member of the Fair Haven Future Firefighters, which he joined in 1972 and served as president. Presently he is director of the Monmouth County Police Academy, responsible for the training of all police recruits. He is a member of the Knollwood School Wall of Honor Committee.
“When you look at the many photos on this Wall of Honor, and you look at the size of our small town, it’s just amazing that so many Knollwood graduates decide to join the armed forces in order to protect and serve our country,” said Breckenridge. “It all comes back to Fair Haven, and the way in which parents raise their kids. Pierson’s parents have done a fine job of raising their son and making him a man. Pierson doesn’t have to give back to his country, but he has decided to do just that, and his parents are as well, by laying the foundation for him. I am so very proud of Pierson, since he is taking the same path as I did by serving in the Future Firefighters and now serving in the Army. Pierson is laying a strong foundation for his life by making great choices, and we are all just so proud of him here in Fair Haven.”
Following his formal address to the crowd, Breckenridge had a personal message to share with the young man following in his footsteps.
“Pierson, if you ever need anything, just reach out to any Wall of Honor committee member and we will be there for you with anything you need. Keep your head held high, and keep moving forward, son.”
Fellow veteran and Wall of Honor Committee member Joe Perrotto offered remarks as well.
“Through my involvement with the Fair Haven Fire Department, I got to know Pierson when he was serving as a Future Firefighter, and I was very impressed by him,” Perrotto said. “Pierson was dedicated to learning the fundamentals of firematics as well as taking on responsibilities to serve the community and learning what it is really like to be a firefighter. Pierson approached me on a few occasions to ask about my service, and we had some great conversations. When I found out that he had enlisted, I was not at all surprised. The Wall of Honor Committee, the Borough of Fair Haven, and the Knollwood School community are all very proud of all the graduates who are serving their country in a very, very dangerous world. Pierson, in my eyes the U.S. Army is lucky to have you in its ranks. I know that everyone here today is very proud of you, and I could not be prouder of you myself.”
Covered by an American flag, Pierson’s photo was unveiled by Breckenridge at the conclusion of the ceremony and is now officially added to the Knollwood School Wall of Honor. Featuring Knollwood School graduates who are serving their country in the armed forces, the Wall of Honor is featured in the main hallway of the school. It was commissioned in 2011 by co-chairs Betsy Koch, an eighth grade science teacher at the school, and Joe Perrotto, who served in the U.S. Marine Corps.
Pierson was joined at the unveiling ceremony by family members, teachers and administrators, and supporters from the community. These included Wall of Honor co-chair Joe Perrotto and as well as members of the Wall of Honor committee: Superintendent of Schools Sean McNeil, Fair Haven Mayor Ben Lucarelli, former member of the Fair Haven Board of Education Katy Frissora, who was instrumental in organizing the ceremony
Also on the committee but unable to attend the ceremony were Wall of Honor co-chair Betsy Koch and Special Education teacher Nicole Bryant. Also unable to attend was Knollwood School Buildings and Grounds Supervisor Rick Robbins, who designed and built the Wall of Honor display.
At the conclusion of the ceremony, Pierson thanked the Wall of Honor Committee members and all those in attendance. He also expressed gratitude for the support of the Fair Haven community and the fact that he was home for the holidays.
“My mom bought my plane ticket, so I am especially grateful to her,” he said.
The Wall of Honor was made possible with funding from the Knollwood School Student Council. Pierson’s photo will remain on display for the duration of his service on active duty. Knollwood graduates currently featured on the Wall of Honor along with Pierson are:
- Alex Hile, Class of 1990, U.S. Navy;
- 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 Hofer, 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;
- Jamie Laughinghouse, Class of 2013, U.S. Marine Corps.
Adjacent to the Wall of Honor is a plaque bearing the names of Knollwood School graduates who were featured on the Wall of Honor when it was commissioned in 2011 and have since 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.
Knollwood School graduates who completed their service prior to 2011, and not included on the plaque, are featured on the Wall of Honor Facebook Page.
Pierson is a native of Fair Haven. He is the son of Bill and Stephanie Dey, brother to Jack and grandson to Diane Dey.
If you know of someone who may be eligible for recognition on the Knollwood School Wall of Honor, please contact Joe Perrotto at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information about the Wall of Honor display, visit https://www.facebook.com/groups/WallOfHonorKnollwood