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Posts Tagged ‘NJN News’

One thing my father noticed on our recent trip down Route 295 and across on Routes 70 and 30 to the Battleship New Jersey Museum and Memorial (see previous post) was a lack of signage directing visitors to the most decorated battleship in the history of the U.S. Navy.

Sure, there were several signs that said “Waterfront Attractions,” but nothing that bragged of the great warship’s presence on the Camden waterfront. We knew where we were going and had planned our trip, so we didn’t need the signage.

But my father, a World War II Navy veteran who served in the Pacific, wanted to know why the presence of this treasure wasn’t trumpeted along the heavily travelled highways. Put another way: Why wasn’t New Jersey bragging about the presence along its shores of the U.S.S. New Jersey? (more…)

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The veteran I know best is my father.

Like a lot of men of his vintage, ca. 1924, he served during World War II; in the Pacific Theater aboard the U.S.S. Cheleb. The Cheleb was a supply ship that travelled alone and ferried ammo and other necessities of war to the fight; making runs back and forth between California and Hawaii and the Phillipines and other island chains for the duration.

After Japan surrendered on August 14, 1945, young Tommy Hooker (as he was known then) and his shipmates were sent to Tokyo Bay to support the U.S. occupation. One fine day the Bronx native and his buddies loaded the U.S.S. New Jersey, later to become the most decorated battleship in the history of the U.S. Navy; and that’s saying something.

My Dad’s memory is worse even than my own, so thankfully, his mother had saved about a dozen of his letters home from those years and in re-reading them 65 years later, we discovered his connection to the New Jersey, or BB 62.

My father gets a kick out of a connection we share with the New Jersey. See, I was part of NJN’s team of reporters that covered the New Jersey being towed up the Delaware on the last leg of its journey out of mothballs out in Bremerton, Washington, back in 1999. My Dad watched NJN’s team coverage¬† as she was berthed at Camden and the connection was born for him. Built just down river at the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard in 1942, she had come home again to become the Battleship New Jersey Museum and Memorial http://www.battleshipnewjersey.org/.

I’d been on its decks several times since then doing stories for NJN News. Once several years ago I went down because the New Jersey’s state funding was being cut and I wanted to do a story on how the crew expected to survive. They’re struggling but they’re managing, with help from museum-goers and innovative thinking like overnight stays, event rentals, golf fundraising outings and the like.

One time while on deck, I called my Dad to tell him where I was and promised I’d get him down there from his Long Island home for a visit.

We finally made that a reality a couple of weeks ago and he loved it. Like so many surviving veterans who served in World War II and now even Korea and Vietnam, they’re getting on in years. My father’s not as agile as he once was — a guy in such good shape that he played golf (poorly, like his son!) and took to the ski slopes well into his 70’s now could really use a wheelchair. And that’s just what was offered to us by the helpful staff there. We took our tour that way and my father could relax and enjoy it.

His legs wouldn’t let him go below decks like he did as the 19- and 20-year-old Navy guy he was when he served. But the tour we got was one to remember; with her huge, 16-inch guns on full display and the great warship’s history — including “Big J’s” stint as the flagship of the Third Fleet in the Pacific Theater for the Elizabeth, N.J., native Admiral Bull Halsey — ably laid out for us by a volunteer docent named Tom who was himself a Navy veteran.

One engaging story Tom told our group involved U.S. troops getting fired upon from a hill above them and calling in cover fire from the New Jersey just offshore. Since its guns can fire accurately for 30 miles or so and providing cover fire was a big part of its job, the battleship was happy to oblige the request.

A short while later, the New Jersey brass radioed back to see whether the problem had been taken care of. “We can’t tell what’s happened to the enemy, sir” came the reply. “The hill is gone.”

It was like old home week for my Dad, surrounded by vets who’d served and who are volunteering their time aboard the U.S.S. New Jersey or paying their respects to the great ship that saved so many U.S. servicemen’s lives and protected our shores.

My father hadn’t laid eyes on her since Tokyo Bay, more than 60 years ago, but to him and the rest of us, she was just as beautiful a defender of freedom as ever.

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¬†On Monday, election eve, I did a story on Missy Rebovich, daughter of the late Rider University political analyst David Rebovich, a fixture on the New Jersey political landscape until his untimely passing three years ago at the age of 58. What follows is the back-story to that story, a link to the story itself, and a couple of photos on the Rider University campus, where Missy, 21, is a senior now, and where NJN News photographer Bob Hartman and I caught up with her several weeks ago for an interview. (more…)

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About our special election show last night, I think it was pretty much as advertised. Three pretty competitive Congressional races in a state where you’re lucky to get one among our 13 seats in any given election year.

But national politics looks to have played here as well so the 3rd, 6th and 12th (see previous post) didn’t disappoint in terms of drama at least early in the night when early returns showed the Republicans sweeping the Democratic incumbents out of all three. (more…)

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File this post under “just askin’.”

Gov. Christie, he of the rising GOP star on the national stage, is off on another national whirlwind campaign tour this last weekend before the all-important mid-term elections with a number of other major players in the Republican party who are looked upon as contenders in the 2012 presidential race.

So here’s the question.

There are three tight Congressional races here in Jersey where the Republicans have a good chance of knocking off the Democratic incumbents (see previous post). So I’m wondering why the governor — with approval ratings here in Jersey of over 50 percent — isn’t hitting the stump for the home-grown candidates in his own state.

I haven’t seen much about this out there in the press. I’ll pop the question to Montclair University political scientist Brigid Harrison tonight on NJN News in our Inside Politics segment. I’m looking forward to hearing her take on it. You can listen along with me on NJN2 at 5:30 or at 6, 7:30 or 11 p.m. NJN.

Of course, it’ll also be archived for a week on njn.net.

Oh, and one more thing, State House Correspondent Zachary Fink and Photographer Bob Hartman were out early this morning to cover the action with Gov. Christie at an airport in Reading, Pa.

So you can catch that story tonight, too. Another I’m looking forward to watching.

See ya on the tube.

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No one, to my knowledge, has given next Tuesday’s general election any kind of nickname or nom de guerre, if you will, but to paraphrase the late Ed Sullivan, it’s going to be a really big show.

Our live election night coverage beginning at 8 on NJN as well as on our website (njn.net) and NJN radio should be fun, lively and engaging. So be sure to tune in if you have any interest at all in state, national and even local politics as this one plays out.

Pundits to the left, right and center are all predicting a landslide victory for the Republicans to the point where flipping Democratic control of the House of Representatives is virtually guaranteed and a 10-seat swing for control of the Senate — unthinkable a few months back — is considered at least an outside shot.

Here in New Jersey there are three House races where all three Democratic incumbents are, if not on the ropes, at least running scared. (more…)

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After my last post on StoryCorps, I wanted to give credit where credit’s due in terms of who from NJN was responsible for getting the group here; add a couple of photos of the gang out at the StoryCorps site in Trenton and provide a link to NJN’s site specially set up for the program where you can find some Jersey folks who’ve offered their stories (and from which you can also get to the organization’s main site).
First off, it was Susan Wallner, a producer/director who works on State of the Arts and other fine NJN programming, who arranged for StoryCorps to come and for NJN to share its name and co-sponsorship with such a fine organization.
She didn’t brag about it; in fact I had to ask her to get it out of her. She said she got the wheels rolling about a year ago. The project was all booked up at the time, but was kind enough to pen Trenton into the calendar for the past month or so that they’ve been here.
At bottom are a couple more photos. You’ll see Susan, myself, Lilly Sullivan of StoryCorps and Sia Nyorkor of NJN News and Radio in the first shot. And Susan, myself, Lilly and NJN News Cameraman (and resident history buff) Tim Stollery in the second shot.
Lilly’s co-workers on the road are Virginia Lora, raised in Peru before moving to Miami when she was 11; and Marquita James, Louisiana-bred.
Oh, and one last thing from a parting conversation Lilly and I had last night.
She says the time has flown by; she doesn’t know where it’s gone and she’s gonna miss this place.
We’ll miss you and yours, too, Lilly. Thanks for stopping in and brightening things up around here for awhile.
Oh, and you’re welcome back around these parts anytime.
Here’s the original story we did on Storycorps:

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Left to right: Susan Wallner, Jim Hooker, Lilly Sullivan, Sia Nyorkor

From left to right: Susan Wallner, Jim Hooker, Lilly Sullivan, and Tim Stollery

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