TRENTON, N.J. – World War II veteran John Tarantino distinguished himself on the battlefield under the command of Gen. George S. Patton and back home in his community, working with the Disabled American Veterans charity. To honor his service, life and work, Assemblymen Sean Kean and Ned Thomson are seeking to have a stretch of Route 71 in Spring Lake Heights — the shore borough Tarantino called home since 1988 — named in his memory.
Their bill (A4955), which would designate mileposts 3.25 to 3.70 as “John Tarantino Highway,” cleared the Assembly transportation committee Thursday.
“Mr. Tarantino’s bravery and selflessness serves as an example to myself and everyone of what an American patriot looks like and lives like,” Kean (R-Monmouth) said. “It’s fitting that the Legislature honor this great man in the place he called home for the last 34 years.”
Tarantino, born in Brooklyn to Italian immigrants in 1924, joined the U.S. Army at age 18. He served in the 47th Armored Infantry Battalion of the 5th Armored Division of the 3rd United States Army Group. After liberating Luxembourg, battling in Hürtgen Forest, and fighting in the Battle of the Bulge, he narrowly escaped death in the Malmedy Massacre on Dec. 17, 1944.
After 5 months of fighting, of the 200 men in his company who landed on Utah Beach in Normandy, France, only he and one other soldier were not wounded or killed.
Severe frostbite forced his honorable discharge. Decorated with the WWII European Campaign Ribbon with three Bronze Battle Stars, the Purple Heart, and the Combat Infantryman Badge, he returned home where he quietly married, worked, and helped other disabled veterans.
“Throughout his life he always honored those he served with, whether through his work with DAV or attending ceremonies that honored his fellow veterans,” Thomson (R-Monmouth) added. “He was a hero and a true patriot.”
Tarantino passed away Nov. 24, three days shy of his 98th birthday.