LONGPORT — U.S. Navy Chief Petty Officer Adam Fleck arrived with his family Sept. 12 to find three fire trucks, a legion of motorcycle riders and a limousine with his name on it all parked in the Ventnor shopping plaza.
Fleck, his wife, Christina, and their 4 year-old daughter, Penelope, were greeted by Longport’s American Legion Post 469 and Ventnor Commissioner Lance Landgraf before starting off on their surprise tour of all three Downbeach communities.
This marked the seventh time Post 469 welcomed a wounded veteran to the community for a week-long, all-expense-paid stay in Longport.
Fleck worked with Navy Seals as an explosive ordnance disposal team leader and was injured seriously in Afghanistan when an insurgent attacked his unit.
After a lengthy recovery at military hospitals both overseas and in the U.S., Fleck was medically discharged from the Navy in June due to his injuries. He was awarded a Purple Heart.
His motorcade traveled along Wellington Avenue, across the Dorset Avenue bridge and then to Atlantic Avenue through both Margate and Longport.
Residents cheered and waved American flags at various spots along the parade route, including the Wellington avenue firehouse and businesses along Dorset avenue, until Fleck arrived at the celebration on 34th street in Longport.
There, Mayor Nick Russo welcomed Fleck and members of the Quilts of Valor Foundation South Jersey Chapter also presented Fleck with a handmade quilt.
“That is the whole idea for you to feel special today,” Russo said to Fleck, “To see the people come out and recognize what you and every other person who has ever put on a military uniform do for us every single day.
Fleck said he appreciated the community’s welcome.
“I’m not an emotional guy, but there was a tear. I’m just very humbled,” he said.
Fleck and his family plan to enjoy a fun week including restaurant meals, sports and beach activities, Atlantic City entertainment shows and use of a beach-block home, all paid through contributions from local residents, visitors and businesses.
“I’m excited to meet everybody and to be up here. It's wonderful,” he said.