By DANIEL WALSH
It seemed a nice, but not huge, gesture when John Goheen set up a dedication of amateur radio equipment on the USS New Jersey to the man whose family donated it.
That 65 friends and family members showed up speaks volumes about the late Thomas Decker.
Decker was killed several years ago when a boat collided with his fishing boat off Long Beach Island.
He left behind a wife, three daughters, three stepchildren, and a bunch of amateur radio equipment from his 30-year hobby.
"(Decker's widow) asked what to do with it. I said, `Why don't you donate it to the ship?' " said Goheen, a member of the Battleship New Jersey Amateur Radio Station.
So Rosemary Decker of Williamstown did.
They dedicated the radio equipment to Thomas Decker on Saturday. It was a simple ceremony, with friends and family seeing the small plaque, touring the ship, and having lunch together on board.
They also had a chance to reminisce.
Thomas Decker's youngest daughter, 28-year-old Patti Gambone of Blackwood, loved the fact that her father was now memorialized on the ship. She recalled sitting with him as a child and talking over the radio to people on the other side of the world - long before the Internet became popular.
"It's just the neatest thing, talking to people with accents from all over the world," Gambone said.
Thomas Decker started with CB radios in the 1970s. He then moved on to the hand-held radios, which became one of his favorite hobbies, along with fishing.
"I have so many postcards from all his contacts," said Rosemary Decker. "They take up a whole wall."
Reach Daniel Walsh at (856) 486-2462 or firstname.lastname@example.org