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Former Parsippany Councilman and Reservist Heads to Afghanistan on Father's Day

Q&A with James Vigilante, just days before he deploys to Afghanistan.

Air Force Reservist Jim Vigilante, former Township Council member and current owner of Independent Construction Enterprises of Parsippany, recently received the call he knew was coming. On Father's Day, he must travel to Afghanistan, where he will work loading and unloading supplies for troops in the field. As he prepared to make his journey, Vigilante graciously sat down with Patch to talk about his trip, the effect on his family and his service.

Patch:  First, how is your family taking the upcoming deployment?

Vigilante:  It’s tough.  My mom is here in Parsippany—we’ve always lived here.  She’s recently been through gall bladder surgery and she has been going through shingles. My daughter, Ashlee, is 23 years old.  She’s not happy about it, either.

Patch:  Can you tell me a little bit about your military background and your current role?

Vigilante: I am in the 35th Aerial Port Squadron, based out of McGuire Air Force Base in South Jersey. I’ve been in the military for over 19 years; the last 10 years I’ve been with this squadron.  I’ve done short tours before, but this is my first time deploying to a combat zone.  

I just got a promotion and will be first sergeant of the medical clinic.  I report to the commander.  I load and unload cargo airplanes, which includes passengers, products or vehicles.  I can’t get into much detail there.

Patch:  Can you share a little about the people in your squadron?  Is it mostly the same crew all the time?

Vigilante:  There’s high turnover.  I would say 50 percent of the people will be new to me. We have people from all walks of life—men, women, single parents, students, policemen, firemen, teachers, IT guys, business owners, corporate accountants and lawyers.   

Patch:  Were you surprised that you were headed to Afghanistan?

Vigilante:  No. I knew it was only a matter of time, before I was called.

Patch:  What was your time commitment in the reserves and how long will you stay in it?

Vigilante: One weekend each month, plus two weeks out of each year.  I will stay in another 14 years.

Patch:  What is the hardest thing about deploying?

Vigilante: The hardest thing for me is getting out of town.  I have my own construction business.  My partner, Cindy Malinchak, will be handling it while I’m away.

Patch:  What can you take with you?

Vigilante:  Pretty much zero personal belongings.  Well...socks and underwear.  That’s about it.

Patch:  Nothing sentimental?

Vigilante: Actually, yes.  The principal from North Vail Elementary School gave me a couple hundred letters to give to the guys.  Some are pretty funny. Let me read a couple to you:

“Now that the guy with the funny name is gone, hope you’ll be home sooner.”  

“Hope your gun is bigger than their gun.”

“Were you in WWI or WWII?”

There’s one other thing.  Cheryl Doltz, the mother of Army National Guard Sgt. Ryan Doltz of Mine Hill, whose son was killed when his armored vehicle was struck by a roadside bomb, gave me a flag to take over there. I will fly it in his honor.

Patch: What is your most memorable military experience?:

Vigilante: That would be my first tour of duty.  I was just out of high school.  Eighteen years old.  I sat on the ground in missile silos for 30 hours at a time, waiting.  Luckily, I never had to turn the key. But, that was my schedule—30 hours in a missile silo, then four days off, then repeat.

Patch:  Thank you so much for your time and for what you’re doing for our country. Can you leave us with a thought about what we, as citizens, can do or give to support our service men and women?

Vigilante:  Just send some love.

Monica Sclafani June 17, 2011 at 03:33 PM
Hi Jimmy ~ Thank you for your service and the best of luck over there! Monica Sclafani
janet adams June 17, 2011 at 04:13 PM
I have a 20 year old who is in the Army stationed in South Korea. He graduated from the Hills last year and three weeks later left for the Army. Once he is done in South Korea, his chances of being deployed to a combat zone is high. He has been in for one year and its been the hardest year of my life. The constant anxiety for your loved one never leaves you. I feel for your family. Thank you for your service and God Bless you on your journey. Be safe. Janet Adams John Adams Parsippany NJ
Tom Wyka June 17, 2011 at 05:46 PM
Jimmy - Thank you for your service, stay safe - and hope to see you back at Kiwanis soon!
Bob Keller June 17, 2011 at 08:07 PM
Jimmy, you've trained long and hard to perform the job you're about to do. Do it well (as I'm sure you will) and return safely. The reasons why men and women do what you're doing are as many as there are service members. I thank you, and appreciate you, for doing it. A lot of folks will miss you while you're gone. Looking forward to seeing you when you get back.
Wasim Khan June 19, 2011 at 05:08 AM
Jimmy, thanks for all you have done for the country and the Parsippany! You have been one of my favourites from our town-hall! Warm and cheerful, - and unassuming! You will definitely be missed by Parippany. Indeed, now the dreadful dead man is under the sea. - we have no business to settle there: Our very bright Prez Obama who could figure out how to get Bin Laden, bin-laid-in his watery grave, I am sure Prez can also find a way to have us out of the hell-hole that is Kabul! If that happens, it will be great to have Jimmy back before Christmas. Our prayers for your safety and our love always: Happy Father's Day!
Charles McNally October 04, 2011 at 03:39 AM
Best to you Jim Still looking for your blog & how to write you. Charlie McNally
Natalie Davis (Editor) October 04, 2011 at 10:00 PM
Charlie: Here's Jim's address: Master Sgt. James Vigilante 451AEW ELRS/ATOC APO AE 09355

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