TRIBUTE: A longtime Lodi firefighter and Bergen County sheriff’s officer who was awarded the Purple Heart and an Air Medal will be among those commemorated this Saturday at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C.
Loved ones of the late Nicholas Ciarocco plan to attend the 10 a.m. “In Memory” ceremony, which will include a roll call of deceased vets from the war and various tributes laid at the wall.
Ciarocco, 67, who died in April 2012, took firefighting so seriously that he sometimes woke his kids in the middle of the night for surprise drills.
A 20-year member of Lodi’s volunteer Truck Company #1, the retired captain helped fight some major area blazes, including the Kruger Brothers fire in the 1980s.
He also was part of an extensively-documented rescue of a man impaled by a mixing vat blade at a Lodi chemical plant.
Former Lodi Fire Chief Lou Tosto, a firefighter/EMT since his early twenties, said he was welcomed by Ciarocco when he joined Truck #1 in the late 80’s, while also serving in a paid department.
“In those days, Lodi and Garfield had heavy fire loads,” Tosto told CLIFFVIEW PILOT . “It was men like Nick Ciarocco who helped mold us younger guys on the line on how to fight fires when they occurred, about loyalty to your brother firemen, and how to act and be there for the general public in a time of crisis.”
Ciarocco wore many hats over the years, all in the service of the public.
Before becoming a member of Teamsters Local 560, he served in the U.S. Army’s First Cavalry in the Central Highlands of Vietnam – and was awarded the Purple Heart and an Air Medal for meritorious helicopter missions.
He later became a correction officer with the Bergen County Sheriff’s Office before advancing to the K-9 unit, where he had three partners over the years. Ciarocco was also a member of the Lodi VFW and the New Jersey Honor Legion.
The weekend events include a Father’s Day ceremony on Sunday morning, during which loved ones will lay roses at the wall, according to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Foundation.
“When VVMF built The Wall in 1982, it had an important mission: To honor Vietnam Veterans and heal the wounds of a nation. Three decades later, the mission continues as we raise funds to build the Education Center at The Wall,” the organization wrote. “The Education Center will educate future generations and honor America’s Legacy of Service, including those serving in our nation’s Armed Forces today.”
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