On Jan 18, 2012 the Mayor and Council from the Borough of Raritan were invited to the Naval Weapons Station (NWS) Earle waterfront complex, Leonardo, NJ for a tour of the USS Iwo Jima (LHD-7) a WASP-class Amphibious Assault Ship. The reason for the invitation was to honor the memory of Gy Sgt. John Basilone, who gave his life for his country at the battle of Iwo Jima in Feb. 1945. Gy Sgt. Basilone was the only enlisted Marine in World War II to receive the Medal of Honor and the Navy Cross.
With a crew of 1,082 Naval personnel and 1,894 Marines the Iwo Jima is a formidable combat vessel which has seen operations in the Middle East but has also provided disaster relief for the city of New Orleans La. in the wake of hurricane Katrina and other humanitarian efforts throughout the world.
The tour was conducted by Marine CWO4 Thomas Desiderio (a New Jersey native) who proudly guided the group through the workings of a modern combat vessel. The USS Iwo Jima has the honor of being only the second ship in the Navy to be presented the flag of the President of the United States.