Sparta Ambulance Squad re-dedicates Memorial Garden to remember fallen members

Sparta. Jeff and Mary Hookway read the names of 57 fallen squad members who have been added to the memorial plaque. A memorial wreath was placed on their behalf.

Sparta /
| 13 Jul 2021 | 03:48

The Sparta Ambulance Squad gathered at its building on Sparta Avenue on July 8 to remember fallen members by re-dedicating its newly renovated Memorial Garden.

The ceremony was moved inside, as thunderstorms and heavy rain hit the area, to keep everyone safe and dry.

The ceremony was organized by squad member Arlene Kayne with help from members Renee Ferguson and Janice Johnson. Kayne was the master of ceremonies, recognizing all the attendees and introducing the speakers for the evening.

The pledge of Allegiance was led by Ferguson, followed by a reading and prayer by George Nafis.

Mayor Christine Quinn spoke about her appreciation of first responders in the community and the dedication of the garden to its fallen members.

Pete Litchfield, commander of VFW Post 7248, discussed the VFW’s role and support in the formation of the squad. Deputy Mayor Smith read a brief history of the Sparta Ambulance Squad. Some highlights included the formation of the Ambulance Squad by VFW Post 7248 in 1947, their first new Cadillac ambulance bring purchased for only $6,250, the formation of a Cadet Corps under the direction of Herbert Orel, the change to a paid daytime EMT staff, and the increase in membership and calls responded to over the years.

Current members Jeff and Mary Hookway continued by reading the names of 57 fallen squad members who have been added to the memorial plaque. A memorial wreath was placed on their behalf by members Janice Johnson and Miriam Ungar.

The ceremony ended with Kayne thanking everyone for their assistance with the ceremony and the continued support for the Sparta Ambulance Squad.

Following the ceremony, guests were invited to view a photo collection of squad members and events from years prior, along with a display of former and current uniforms worn by squad members over the years.

Refreshments were served, and many stayed to speak with current and former members as well as view the displays.

The Sparta Ambulance Squad strives to meet its mission “To provide 24-hour, compassionate, caring, emergency medical services to the Sparta community.” Their 70-plus members currently respond to more than 1,200 emergency calls each year and are always looking to grow their membership.

If you would like more information on their history or are interested in joining, visit

Joining many current Squad members were:
Pete Litchfield, Commander of VFW Post 7248
Christine Quinn, Mayor
Neil Spidaletto, Sparta Police Chief and Acting Township Manager
Dave Smith, Lifetime Squad Member
Many lifetime and former Squad members attended, including:
John Cronin
Andy Smetana
Jason Debski
Kerry Debski
Tim Lynott
Barbara Crane
George Nafis