County hosts ninth annual Veterans Day observance

Photo Courtesy of Essex County
At the ninth annual Essex County Veterans Day Observance in Veterans Memorial Park in Newark on Nov. 7 are, from left, Navy veteran William D. Squires, Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo Jr. and Congresswoman-elect Mikie Sherrill.

NEWARK, NJ — At the ninth annual Essex County Veterans Day Observance in Veterans Memorial Park in Newark on Wednesday, Nov. 7, Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo Jr., joined by 11th Congressional District Congresswoman-elect Mikie Sherrill, a veteran herself, presented an Essex County Community Star Award to William D. Squires, a U.S. Navy and Naval Reserve veteran. In addition, Essex County employees who are veterans of the seven branches of the military represented in the Essex County Armed Forces monument were invited to attend the ceremony.

“Throughout our country’s history, brave men and women have put their lives on hold to serve in the U.S. Armed Forces at home and abroad. Our Essex County Veterans Memorial Park was created to provide our veterans with a place to find serenity and comfort and provide a constant reminder to the public about their contributions and sacrifices,” DiVincenzo said. “We are proud to stand with our veterans at this important occasion, give them our respect and thank them for representing our country with valor and bravery.

“Bill Squires dedicated over 35 years of his life in the Navy and Naval Reserves, and continues his involvement in retirement by representing the Navy as a Blue and Gold Officer and with the Academy’s Alumni Association. We are proud to honor Bill for his long-time service to his country,” DiVincenzo continued.

Sherrill echoed DiVincenzo’s sentiments.

“Bill Squires represented the very best of what we expect from our veterans. He flew thousands of hours, traveled around the globe and then continued to serve after he left active duty. He just continues to serve his country and community anyway he can,” Sherrill said.

For Squires, this award is for all of his fellow servicemen and servicewomen.

“I am proud to have served my country in the Navy. This award is not about me; it’s about all veterans,” Squires said. “It’s hard to be separated from your family, but we do that willingly because we are dedicated to serve our country. Every night I pray for the lives of the men and women who served in the armed forces willingly, loyally and faithfully.”

Squires graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1975 and served on active duty as a naval aviator for 12 years. During that time, he had more than 4,000 hours flying the P-3 Orion and made multiple deployments around the world. During his Naval career, Squires received the “Wings of Gold” in 1976, served as a member of the VP 26 Special Operations Unit, was an instructor pilot and tactical training team leader, and communications officer on the USS John F. Kennedy, which was his last assignment. Squires continued his service by joining the Naval Reserves, where he served for 24 years before retiring with the rank of commander in 2003.

Since 1991, Squires has participated in the U.S. Naval Academy Admissions Office Blue and Gold Program, serving as an ambassador for the Navy educating students and their parents about the merits of attending the Naval Academy and assisting Academy candidates during the application process. He has held several leadership positions with the Blue and Gold program, most recently serving as chairman of the Area Coordinator Steering Committee, which oversees the more than 2,200 Blue and Gold Officers and acts as a liaison between the program and the Naval Academy Admissions Office. He also has been a member of the Naval Academy Alumni Association’s board of trustees since 2017.

Following his service in the Navy, Squires entered the sports and entertainment facility management business and has held top level positions at Yankee Stadium, Giants Stadium, Cleveland Browns Stadium and Disney’s Wide World of Sports.

Squires currently has his own consulting business, with the New York Giants among his clients. He is a member of the Sports League Sports Council, which works with the Department of Homeland Security on security and issues as sports and entertainment venues, and an adjunct professor at Columbia University where he teaches a course in sports facility and event management. Squires and his wife, Jodi Squires, are among the top fundraisers in the country for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. They have three children and one grandchild.

Essex County Health Officer Michael Festa, who has been a member of the American Legion Post 185 in Caldwell for 25 years, where he serves as chaplain, gave the invocation. Ta-Leafa Schenck, Kamiko Mathius, Kelice Moore and Kara Miller, seniors at Donald M. Payne Sr. School of Technology, sang the national anthem. Jack McGarry, a retired officer with the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office, performed the “Armed Forces Medley.”The Essex County Sheriff’s Honor Guard presented the colors at the beginning of the ceremony.