L-R: Former Marines Fred Dispensiere and Joe Perrotto welcome Matthew (Matt) Valko to the Wall of Honor at Knollwood School.   

Press release from Fair Haven School District

Recently, Matthew (“Matt”) Valko completed his U.S. Marine Corps boot camp training and headed to the Combat Division at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. But before that, the native of Fair Haven had another important milestone to address, at the middle school from which he graduated in 2010.

Matt’s photo has now been added to the Knollwood School “Wall of Honor,” featuring graduates who are proudly serving their country in the armed forces. Located prominently in the main hallway of the school, the Wall of Honor was commissioned in 2011 by co-chairs Betsy Koch, an eighth grade science teacher at the school, and Joe Perrotto, who served in the U.S. Marine Corps.

Matt, an Eagle Scout from Troop 125, resides in Fair Haven with his father Dr. Peter Valko, his mother Madelyne, his brother P.J., and his sister Carly. A member of Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School’s Class of 2014, Matt was joined at the unveiling ceremony by family members and supporters from the community. These included Fair Haven Mayor Ben Lucarelli, Fair Haven Superintendent of Schools Sean McNeil, Knollwood School Principal Amy Romano, and former Board of Education Member Katy Frissora, who was instrumental in setting up the ceremony.

Also in attendance to lend his support and solidarity was longtime resident and former Fair Haven Police Officer Fred Dispensiere, a product of the Fair Haven school system who joined the U.S. Marine Corps in 1968, not long after his 1967 graduation from RFH. Dispensiere spent 13 months in Vietnam with the 7th Marine Regiment of the 1st Marine Division, and, after completing his tour, finished his active duty training Marine recruits at Camp Pendleton in California. He also served as a Color and Honor Guard for the Commandant of the Marine Corps and President Richard Nixon during his tour of duty, an honor given to only a select few servicemen.

“These graduates have made the decision to serve their country, and as long as this display is here they shall not be forgotten and their sacrifice and service not taken for granted,” said Perrotto. “It is also important to remember that the graduates on this display are not the only ones making sacrifices – the parents, family, and friends of these young men will suffer emotional highs and lows as their loved ones serve their country in a very dangerous world.”

The Wall of Honor was made possible with funding from the Knollwood School Student Council and was designed and built by Rick Robbins, Supervisor of Buildings and Grounds. Matt’s photo will remain on display for the duration of his service on active duty. Knollwood graduates currently featured on the Wall of Honor are:

Christopher Richards, Class of 2000, U.S. Navy

Joel Hyduke, Class of 2001, West Point Graduate, U.S. Army

Kenneth Ebner, Class of 2005, West Point Graduate, U.S. Army

Christopher Hoffer, Class of 2006, U.S. Air Force

Brendan Reiss, Class of 2007, U.S. Army

Brian Truex, Class of 2008, U.S. Navy

Keegan Finn, Class of 2008, U.S. Marine Corps

Matthew Murray Valko, Class of 2010, U.S. Marine Corps

Anthony Sciametta, Class of 2011, U.S. Army

Joseph McGovern, Jr., Class of 2012, U.S. Marine Corps

Adjacent to the Wall of Honor is a plaque bearing the names of Knollwood School graduates who have completed their service. Made possible by the support of American Legion Post 168 in Red Bank, this plaque features the following:

Craig Cannon, Class of 1984, U.S. Army

Joshua Zager, Class of 1985, U.S. Marine Corps

Scott Beattie, Class of 1991, U.S. Army

Shaun Foley, Class of 1996, U.S. Marine Corps

Matthew Perrotto, Class of 1999, U.S. Army

Wayne Coy, Class of 1999, U.S. Marine Corps

Will Miller, Class of 2001, U.S. Army

Michael Humphreys, Class of 2003, U.S. Army

Bobby DeCanio, Class of 2004, U.S. Marine Corps

If you know of someone who may be eligible for recognition on the Knollwood School Wall of Honor, please contact Joe Perrotto at joeotto@aol.com. For more information about the Wall of Honor display, visit https://www.facebook.com/groups/WallOfHonorKnollwood.