LINDEN, NJ — Linden High School Navy Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps students had the opportunity to celebrate Veterans Day on Wednesday, Nov. 1, through a Webex discussion with a former Linden Public Schools student and retired U.S. Navy veteran Eric Coleman. The Linden High School NJROTC unit was established in 1986 and originally had approximately 90 cadets in the first years of its establishment. Currently, the Linden High School NJROTC has an impressive number of about 480 cadets enrolled in the program. The NJROTC students paid a special honor to the Navy veteran.
Coleman, a retired senior chief petty officer, E-8, participated in the promotion of several cadets, along with Superintendent Atiya Perkins. The students were able to meet and learn the story of Coleman, a former student of the NJROTC Linden High School and now a permanently disabled U.S. Navy veteran. This was a unique lesson for the students to hear the story of a former student and the lessons that he learned through his military career and life. Coleman grew up in the 4th Ward on Carnegie Street and spent a large amount of time at the Linden Free Public Library. He reminisced about walking the halls of Linden High School with his friend, the superintendent. He stated he is very proud of his friend Perkins, who he knew from childhood and who is now superintendent of Linden Public Schools – the schools that provided her with her education. Perkins said, “Our students are very fortunate to hear the story of a former NJROTC cadet from Linden High School who has continued a life of service.”
Coleman told the cadets he worked at the U.S. Postal Office in Linden and delivered mail throughout Linden after his high school years. He was outgrowing his environment and had an inner calling to do more and wanted to serve his country. He joined the military in 2000. Coleman said, “No matter what ship, what country he was in, he always shouted out ‘07036’ and always came back to his foundation, back to Linden. When he speaks about Linden, he reminisces about going to Saint Marks Park, walking to Wood Avenue and thinking back to the Linden Halloween parade, remembers going to the movies on Wood Avenue and then having a slice of pizza at Anacapri. Coleman said he still enjoys going to the library and the Linden Free Public Library has some of the best memories.
Coleman said he was a little frightened boy from Linden who grew up to embrace adventure. He never understood defeat and no tragedy or disappointment ever broke his spirit. With the pride of 07036 and paired with the service of ROTC and the Navy, he said it comes down to respect, honor and choosing to overcome and go through any obstacle, no matter what.
Photos Courtesy of Christine Hudak/Linden Public Schools