Paterson firefighter John Millington gave his life for his country during WWI. The plaque below is the front of a WWI memorial statue in People's Park: Market Street, East 22nd Street, & 19th Avenue intersection
World War II
During World War II many firemen volunteered their services as evidenced by the 1944 FMBA Ballbook.
The above roster, from the 1944 Ball Book only includes firemen who took a leave of absence from the PFD to serve their country. Many other WWII veterans joined the PFD in the years after the war ended. Below is a thorough list from PFD archives (inductees and enlistees) compiled after the War. Note the typo - Harold Lane should be Harold Kane
Andrew Offner of Truck Company 3 (pictured at the right) was inducted into the United States Army Army March 3, 1943. He died in action at Normandy, France (D-Day Invasion) as a Private on July 30, 1944.
Bernard Kennedy was appointed to the Paterson Fire Department May 19, 1942 while already in the service. He was killed in action in Holland October 29, 1944.
Firemen had to request of the Board a leave of absence before leaving for service to his country. Temporary replacements were then hired to serve until the veteran returned: see the appointment of Aloysius Lynch to replace the departing Joseph Dayspring below
When Joseph Dayspring was discharged from the service he was cleared to return to duty and Aloysius Lynch was terminated
May 31 2016: From, North Jersey News: John Walton, a survivor of Pearl Harbor and retired Paterson firefighter, died on Tuesday from injuries he suffered over Memorial Day weekend when his car crashed into a city firehouse where he once worked, officials said. Walton, who was 101, had been the city’s oldest living war veteran, according to Tony Vancheri, president of the Paterson Veterans Council.
Just several days before his death, Walton had attended a Memorial Day weekend ceremony at Passaic County Technical Institute, Vancheri said. “He was like a magnet the way he drew all the kids to him,” said Vancheri.
The fatal crash happened on Sunday afternoon, when Walton’s car grazed a fire truck (Engine Company 6) and then rammed into the brick firehouse on Getty Avenue, officials said. “I think the most tragic thing is that after a long career of putting his life in jeopardy he died from traffic accident,” said Mayor Jose “Joey” Torres. “Not from a burning building. Not from a torpedo. But from a car crash.”
Officials said it was not clear where Walton was heading when the crash happened. Vancheri, a neighbor of Walton’s, said the veteran still lived an active life and still drove short distances during the daytime and could be found tending the flower garden in front of his Maitland Avenue home.
“He was a kind and gentle man,” said Vancheri. “Everybody liked him.” Walton was in the barracks on Ford Island at Pearl Harbor when the Japanese planes attacked. “We heard this plane screaming. What’s going on? This is a Sunday!” Walton said in an interview with The Record in 2011. “And then we started hearing the bombs going off. We went to the window and see this plane flying over our heads, with the red spots on it. It was probably dropping a bomb on the ol’ Utah out there. Somebody had the sense to say, ‘Better get down to the first floor.’ That’s when it all started for us." "We were in the mess hall on the first floor, and all of a sudden the guys were coming in from the battleships anchored off Ford Island. They were swimming from the battleships to land. They were full of oil, more in shock. We were helping take care of the poor guys from the battleships."
Walton was discharged from the Navy in September 1945 after serving four years in the Pacific. Then, he became a city firefighter, rising to the rank of captain before he retired in 1980. John Harris, head of the Passaic County Veterans Office, recalled meeting Walton when the two of them were members of the Paterson fire department in the 1970s. Harris was a young recruit who had been in the military in Vietnam. “All of those years, I never knew he was a survivor of Pearl Harbor,” said Harris. “He was one of those guys who saw the horrors of war and didn’t talk much about it.” Harris described Walton as “gentleman.”
Two years ago, Walton was honored as one of Paterson’s “hometown heroes” by the Boys and Girls Club of Paterson and Passaic. Young Paterson firefighters liked to pose for pictures with him because of his stature. Torres said the flags at Paterson’s firehouses would fly at half-mast in Walton’s honor. In his 2011 interview, Walton said he still thought back on his time in the Navy. "Every once in a while you lay in bed and go over it, I guess,” he said. “You think about the fun you had, more than you think about the trouble out there."