Barnegat Veteran Is One Of Three Old-Time Survivors With AM-Oldest Vet Bjt
Jun. 23, 1987
BARNEGAT, N.J. (AP) _ Of the country's 28 million war veterans, 102-year-old John T. Fitzgerald is one of only three listed by the Veterans Administration as being a survivor of the Spanish-American War era.
Now ailing, he lives in a nursing home in Barnegat.
''He has good days and bad days,'' said Fitzgerald's grandson, Andrew Baran of Toms River.
Fitzgerald joined the Navy in 1902, serving as a yeoman aboard the presidential yacht Mayflower for two years, said Chuck Lucas, a VA spokesman.
''I remember he talked about serving Teddy Roosevelt,'' Baran said.
According to a VA biography, Fitzgerald then served on the battleship USS Illinois for six years.
Baran said his grandfather then joined the Merchant Marines and traveled around the world before returning home to Bayonne, where his family had moved to from his birthplace of Cleveland.
Fitzgerald married and had a son and three daughters. He worked for the Bayonne Board of Health and a local motor vehicle agency before retiring and moving to Toms River on the New Jersey shore, Lucas said.
''The VFW (Veterans of Foreign Wars) chapter in Toms River considered it quite an honor to have him as a member,'' Baran said.
Fitzgerald did not actually serve in the Spanish-Amuzican War, Lucas said, but is honored as a veteran of that war's era.
''It was only a six-month conflict, but he's still one of our three older veterans from that era, and we consider them a little more special,'' Lucas said.