New Jersey World War II veteran gets a parade on his 100th birthday
nj.com September 12, 2023
(Tribune News Service) — Folks lined the streets of Hampton, N.J., on Labor Day in Hunterdon County to watch a procession of emergency vehicles, marchers and a pipe band taking part in a celebration of Hampton resident Bob “Gibby” Gibson, who turned 100 that day.
The parade, organized by the Hampton Fire Company, honored Gibson, a 74-year member of the department and a former chief. Gibson was also mayor and councilman in Hampton and borough Planning Board chairman.
Gibson, speaking to NJ Advance Media, said the celebration “couldn’t have been any nicer. ... I’m not used to all of this fancy stuff. I’m a plain and ordinary guy.”
He said he was moved by the pipe band and the flyovers of aircraft, including a World War II-era plane, and the large crowd that came out to celebrate his birthday.
“I had a real good crowd. I couldn’t have asked for anything more,” Gibson said said. “I even talked to the governor ( Phil Murphy). They even made a street in my name.”
Gibson, who was among the second wave on D-Day, said he plans to go to Normandy for his 101st birthday to mark the 80th anniversary of the Allied invasion. Gibson said he has been to Normandy three times.
“The first time Uncle Sam paid for the trip,” he said. “We did it for you people, so now don’t screw it up.”
Gibson’s contributions to local organizations include past commander of the Washington American Legion Post, charter member of the Glen Gardner VFW and trustee at the Musconetcong Presbyterian Church.
Born in Hampton, Gibson graduated from Hampton High School in 1943 and was drafted into the U.S. Army out of high school. In addition to being part of D-Day, he also fought in the Battle of the Bulge. His unit, the 116th AAA (anti-aircraft artillery) Gun Battalion, is credited with shooting down 105 German aircraft, destroying 200 trucks and tanks, and capturing more than 5,000 prisoners.
Rick Allen, a past chief of the Hampton Fire Department, said the turnout for Gibson’s parade exceeded his expectations.
“We had twenty fire companies from Hunterdon and Warren counties, four emergency squads, as well as a lot of individuals driving old cars and trucks in the parade,” Allen said. “Everyone knows Bob and came out. The turnout from the town was phenomenal.”
Allen said the New Jersey State Police had troopers on motorcycles leading the parade while the State Police Pipe Band took part in the parade and a state police NorthStar helicopter did a flyover. Those taking part in the parade included local, county and state officials, including State Police Superintendent Col. Patrick Callahan.
When asked about the Gibson’s reaction, Allen said: “In typical Bob Gibson fashion, he said, ‘I don’t know why you’re making a fuss. And, if this is gonna cost anything, I want to pay for it.’ Bob has been that way all his life; he’s a true gentleman.”
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