By John Elliott

MONTVILLE, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Hundreds gathered Thursday in New Jersey to honor those who served our country.

Stirring sounds and sunny skies set the stage for a moving Veterans Day ceremony at VFW Post 5481 in Montville, CBS2’s John Elliott reported.

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A crowd of more than 200 gathered to honor and celebrate every branch of the military.

It was moving to hear memories of World War II from veterans like Tom Jones, who lost 145 of his sea mates in a kamikaze attack in the South China Sea, Elliott said.

“What I’ll never forget is the burial the next day, when they slid over the side of the ship into the water,” said Jones, a WWII Navy vet. “Their parents, their loved ones, never got to see them and say goodbye.”

U.S. Army vet Gerry Gemian, 99, served in the South Pacific.

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“I remember my guys coming along side of me, running up on the beaches,” Gemian said.

“I feel like it’s my duty as an educator to keep their spirit alive and let the students know how important our veterans are,” said Rick Crescente from Robert R. Lazar Middle School.

Guest speaker George Nadar narrowly escaped death at the Beirut Embassy Bombing in 1983. He was here to pay homage to the Marines and other service members who didn’t survive.

“We all came from a place that was looking for a better life and the sacrifice of the armed forces is the reason we’re able to be here,” Nadar said.

“America needs to remember those who served and also needs to remember what we can do for them now. We need to know and help with their benefits, help with their lives,” said VFW Post 5481 Commander Ken Hanzl.

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Elliott’s dad served in WWII and instilled in him a great respect for all who serve. As the kid of a vet, Elliott said it was great to see that genuine spirit of appreciation is still strong today.

John Elliott