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Pershing Rifles Company N-8 Honored by Saint Peter's College

Monday, November 14, 2011   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Angeline Boyer
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On November 11, more than 100 alumni made the journey from all across the country back to Saint Peter’s College, some returning to the Jersey City campus for the first time in more than 55 years. As the former classmates entered McIntyre Lounge that evening, they shared hugs and laughs with their old friends and brothers. These alumni were all members of the Pershing Rifles Company N-8, a military fraternity, which was located on the Saint Peter’s College Jersey City campus for four decades.

The alumni immediately began to reminisce as they were reunited with old friends while nostalgic videos and pictures were projected onto screens hanging on the walls. The reason for this heartfelt gathering, which was aptly scheduled on Veterans Day, was created not only to bring together former classmates, but to pay tribute to these dedicated alumni for the honor and recognition they brought to the College.

Pershing Rifles is a national military honor society, which is part of the ROTC and is dedicated to leadership and precision drill. Since its inception in 1952, Company N-8 had a rich history of winning championships, with national championships secured in 1971, 1973, 1975, 1978, 1979, 1982 and 1984.

In order to honor this impressive fraternity, Saint Peter’s College dedicated a commemorative plaque to the group, which will hang in the Quad of the Jersey City campus. The plaque describes the group’s contribution to the College, stating that the members of the Pershing Rifles brought "honor and recognition to the College, the ROTC and themselves by exhibiting the highest proficiency in military drill, discipline and spirit, by winning national and local honors.”

Dick O’Brien ’60, a former Pershing Rifle and a current member of the Saint Peter’s College Board of Regents, was instrumental in the Pershing Rifles dedication. Many of the trophies from the fraternity’s championship wins were lost and O’Brien worked with Saint Peter’s College President Eugene J. Cornacchia, Ph.D., to create the plaque to honor these former students. "The Pershing Rifles were truly about leadership,” said O’Brien. "Sometimes leadership isn’t necessarily always about leading, it is about learning how to take orders and not just give them.”

Michael A. Fazio, vice president for advancement and external affairs at Saint Peter’s College, opened the dedication ceremony, stating that the College was extremely pleased by the turnout since originally it was anticipated that a maximum of 30 alumni may attend the event. Obviously the bond amongst the men was grossly underestimated. "The fact that there are over 100 Pershing Rifles in this room today is a testament to the bond within this group.” As the plaque was unveiled there was a standing ovation from the crowd, which was later followed by chants and cheers.

Gerald Manna ’63, Robert Scully ’63, Lew Pascalli ’64, and James Damato ’64 were all born and raised in Jersey City and Hoboken, attended Saint Peter’s College and were members of Company N-8. As these classmates went their separate ways, with some serving in active duty in Vietnam and others going on to graduate from West Point, they remained in contact through the Internet, but this event provided them with the opportunity to reconnect face-to-face for the first time in years.    

Although the faces of the brothers have changed over the years, along with the campus where many of them last saw each other, one thing that has remained the same is the brotherhood and camaraderie that lasts to this day.

To view pictures from the event please click here.

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