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South Jersey

Sunday, May 20, 2001
Burl. Twp. hosts USS New Jersey Day

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  • Read more than 300 USS New Jersey articles going back to 1939
    Courier-Post Staff

    Kathy Jarvis of Burlington City solved a gift problem on Saturday - what to get her dad for Father's Day next month.

    She went shopping at Burlington Center, which was hosting Battleship USS New Jersey Day and found fitting presents: a battleship hat and T-shirt with silhouettes of one of the most important ships in U.S. naval history.

    "My dad was in the Navy on the USS Toledo and I figured this would be perfect for Father's Day," said Jarvis, a physical therapist.

    "He lives in Parsippany up north so we kidded about whether the ship would end up in Camden or North Jersey. I am glad it will be here. It will be another attraction to see on the Camden Waterfront."

    Jarvis was among many women who bought ship merchandise for their men and themselves at a booth set up by the Home Port Alliance, the South Jersey coalition that plans to open the refurbished ship as a museum in September.

    "I am buying these to help get the New Jersey museum started," said Phyllis Rite of Pemberton Township, who was shopping for her husband, Rodman, a veteran of the heavy cruiser USS Canberra.

    The Garden State Chorale performed songs like "My Buddy" and "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy" as a backdrop for a medals ceremony. Fourteen veterans from all branches of the service and different wars received the New Jersey Distinguished Service medal.

    Three Army veterans of World War II - Tom Gorse, Jack Berger and Frank Miller, all of Florence - wore their 1943 khaki uniforms to support the ship.

    "The Jersey supported us with her mighty guns when I was in the amphibious forces landing on islands in the Pacific," said Dutchie Lynch, 81, of Roebling.

    Meanwhile, 21 members of the Camden County Asian-American Advisory Council toured the ship as part of an effort by county freeholders to involve minority communities in the project. The ship is undergoing a $7 million restoration at the Broadway Terminal in Camden, part of a total project expected to cost more than $22 million.

    "We are going to spread the word for the volunteer effort. A monumental task is ahead to put it up as an exhibition," said K.D. Patel of Marlton, a mechanical engineer and insurance broker of Indian descent who was raised in South Africa.

    K.K. Wu of Voorhees, a retired chemical engineer who emigrated from Hong Kong in 1958, was awed by the 887-foot- long warship. "It's gigantic. You cannot really appreciate it until you see it," he said, "and then your emotions get involved and you become part of it."

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