The Grand Marshall for the 2009
John Basilone Memorial Parade is John "Sonny" Hudak

John served in the Navy during World War II on a LSM-426. LSM is a Landing Ship Medium
At age 17, just 3 days after graduating from Somerville High School in 1944, he joined the Navy.

His 1st stop was boot camp in Green Bay Wisconsin for 12 weeks. Following training he was assigned to an amphibious unit that would be going to the Pacific Theater of War.

His ship the LSM-426 had just been christened in Dover, Delaware and his unit was soon on their way to the Pacific.
By Navy standards, this was a small ship which held just 30 men.
Their 1st stop was Pearl Harbor.
After that Guam, Okinawa, Saipan & Eniwetok.

They delivered tanks and troops to these various destinations.
While they delivered their cargo before the battles began,
danger was often present especially off the coast of Okinawa.
John recalls his ship had several anxious moments
when enemy aircraft were seen above.

Their ship performed a secondary purpose.
When moving with a large convoy, they
would lay down a trail of smoke to help camouflage
the ships from enemy attack.

During early 1945 he was promoted to Coxswain.
After 20 months of duty he was discharged in June of 1946.

As for John Basilone, John Hudak knew him in passing,
yet he was very familiar with the family
and their home on First Avenue.

On the day of the famous Welcome Home Parade for John Basilone
in September of 1943, John Hudak was unable to attend, as he
was doing his part in the work production effort.
He was at the Army Depot in South Somerville packing up tents
that were to be shipped overseas to the troops.

The pay offered that day was a wage that was hard to pass up
in 1943 - 75 cents an hour - resulting in $6 per day.
John Hudak was born in Raritan in 1926 and is still a resident.
He lives on LaGrange Street, just a few houses away from his childhood home on Elmer Street.
Shown on right with his dad, John G. Hudak who was also
born in Raritan in 1900. Dad's dad, Sonny's Grandfather,
had come to Raritan from Austria around the late 1880's.
John on the right with brother Tony.
Tony would serve in Raritan's Government
as Councilman and Mayor
He attended the local Raritan Schools of his era
The Raritan Primary School
The Raritan Intermediate School
The Washington School,
and Somerville High School.

Click to see full class photo
Above is the home/store that he lived in on Elmer Street.
The front of the building was The Hudak's Grocery Store.
They lived in the back and upstairs
John often worked in the store.
Click to see large photo
The home stills stands today.
It is owned by Tony Hudak
The store was decorated to welcome Sonny home when
he returned from the war in 1946.
That's Tony and John with Mom
in front of a home on Granetz Street.
John married Mildred Spatt in October of 1949
They were married 55 years
Mildred passed away in 2004
Click to see full wedding photo
Their household understood the sacrifices of war.
Mildred's brother Joseph Spatt of Raritan was
killed in action in World War II.

click for profile on Joseph Spatt
From 1946 until his retirement in 2005, he worked in the construction field as a contractor in
building homes, condos, and townhouses.

They had 2 sons - John lives in Warren Glen, New Jersey and Joseph lives in Raritan.