James Hewitt and Nicholas Loveless loved the American flag and they loved their country, so it was only fitting that the new flagpole at the Bridge Academy should be dedicated in their honor.
That’s what members of the Hewitt and Loveless families said as they observed the flagpole dedication ceremony at the private school at 1900 Lawrenceville Road, which was timed to coincide with Veterans Day on Nov. 11.
Loveless’ grandchild, Nicholas Loveless Middle, raised the American flag. Hewitt’s great-grandchild, Oliver Hewitt, unveiled the plaque at the base of the flagpole. The flag, which was donated by U.S. Senator Robert Menendez, had flown over the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, D.C.
Hewitt, who died in 2012, and Loveless, who died last month, were World War II veterans and retired Lawrence Township police officers. Both men grew up in Lawrence Township.
“This is really about honoring those who have served, specifically these two men,” Bridge Academy Principal Sue Morris told the attendees.
Hewitt, who served in the U.S. Army, was a Pearl Harbor survivor, Morris said. He was on guard duty when Japan attacked the U.S. military base at Pearl Harbor. He was a member of the Pearl Harbor Survivor Association. He also belonged to American Legion Post 414 and the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 3022 in Lawrence Township.
Hewitt returned to Lawrence Township after the war and became a Lawrence Township police officer, Morris said. He was the Police Department’s first detective. He retired in 1983 after 27 years of service.
Loveless, who also served in the U.S. Army, was an aerial gunner and combat photographer on a B-25 bomber, Morris said. He completed 60 combat missions.
Loveless was recalled to active duty during the Korean War in 1950, and assigned to a B-29 bomber crew. He completed 40 combat missions over North Korea.
Loveless was a tail gunner for the Wing Commander that led nine planes on a mission to bomb bridges on the Yalu River in the first major air battle with enemy jet fighters in the Korean War, Morris said.
Loveless joined the Lawrence Township Police Department in 1954. He rose through the ranks to become chief of police. He retired in 1990.
Loveless was a life member of American Legion Post 414 and Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 3022 in Lawrence Township. He was a past president of the 57th Bomb Wing Association. He was chairman of the township’s Veterans Memorial Committee.
“These two men demonstrated actions that inspired others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more,” Morris said.
“We, the community of the Bridge Academy, are honored to dedicate our school’s flagpole to these two hometown heroes,” she said.
Hewitt’s and Loveless’ family members were pleased that the school dedicated its flagpole to their father and grandfather. It was only fitting, said Hewitt’s son, also named James Hewitt.
The younger Hewitt said his father was known as the “flag man of Lawrence Township,” and he frequently spoke to school children about the importance of respecting the American flag.
Hewitt said his father and Loveless established the flag decommissioning service for worn and tattered flags in Lawrence Township. It is now the Mercer County flag retirement service.
“I think (the flagpole dedication) is a fitting tribute to him. He loved flags. He was all about service,” said Jeff Hewitt, the elder James Hewitt’s grandson.
Loveless’ son, Robert Loveless, said his father would have been honored by the ceremony.
“It was a personal honor. It is his name, his legacy and his remembrance that can be carried on,” Loveless said.
“It’s an honor to have this done for him,” said Loveless, who is also a retired Lawrence Township police officer.