World War II Hero Honored in Naming of New Residence Hall Wing

War Hero and New Jerseyan John Basilone is first to have name on wing of The Heights.

Photo: Mike Peters

Diane Hawkins, niece of honoree John Basilone with images of her uncle.

World War II hero and New Jerseyan John Basilone was announced as the first person whose name will go on a wing of The Heights--the new multi-building residence hall complex under construction at Montclair State University--at a ceremony held at the University on November 10. Making the announcement were Montclair State University President Susan A. Cole and U.S. Representative Bill Pascrell, Jr.

Basilone, who is the only Marine in U.S. history to be awarded both the Medal of Honor and the Navy Cross, was killed in combat at Iwo Jima on February 19, 1945.

Referring to the University’s celebration of Veteran and Military Student Recognition Week, President Cole said, “Today, we name the first wing of one of the buildings for someone who has been honored before. During this week, when we salute and honor our veterans, we are proud to name this wing for one who gave his life for our country.”

“On the eve of Veterans’ Day, I cannot think of a more deserving New Jerseyan for us to be celebrating and commemorating,” said Pascrell, a long-time champion of greater recognition for Basilone. “Sergeant Basilone’s legacy is one of valor, courage, and patriotism that cannot easily be matched. Thank you to the students, faculty, and Montclair State University community for choosing to honor such a great American.”

Also participating in the ceremony was Basilone’s niece, Diane Hawkins, who shared a clip from a documentary film about her uncle that she is creating, and two Montclair State seniors, Corporal Daniel Koehler, a political science major, and Corporal Amanda Kuchta, who is majoring in family and child studies. Both students are currently serving in the Marine Corps and are attending Montclair State with the help of the federal Post 9/11 GI Bill.

Located on the north end of the campus and scheduled to open in August of 2011, The Heights is comprised of four residence halls, each with two wings, and a 25,000-square-foot dining facility and will house 1,978 students, thereby increasing the University’s current on-campus housing capacity of 3,000 by more than 50 percent.

By naming the wing after Basilone, Montclair State is keeping with the tradition of naming new buildings after deceased New Jerseyans who “have blazed new trails in their fields of endeavor.” Names are chosen by a referendum of students, faculty, and staff.

Visit the John Basilone Foundation Web site

Read more about John Basilone in the press release.
View more photos from the event.
Read coverage of the event in:
The Star-Ledger
The Herald News