by Phil Stilton
TOMS RIVER-In High School, Denis Miranda enjoyed being in the water and his strong swimming abilities earned him a spot on the Toms River High School East swim team and a summer job as a lifeguard. His swimming coach, Brian Cerbone said that– and his determination to succeed was what helped Miranda become a U.S.Navy SEAL team member.
Miranda graduated from Toms River High School East in 2003 and joined the Navy shortly after graduation. In 2007, he became a SEAL after years of hard work and was assigned to Patrol Squadron 8, based out of Jacksonville, Florida.
On September 21, 2010, Miranda died in a helicopter crash while serving in Afghanistan. Five others died in that crash.
“They don’t make kids like Denis anymore,” Cerbone said. ”He had compassion, determination and strength.”
An audience of approximately one hundred crowded the intersection of Bay Avenue and Linden Road as the Township dedicated yet another road to a fallen service member.
In past years, the township has dedicated roads in memory of fallen Marines Vincent Frassetto and James M. Weiss.
Thomas Kelaher, mayor and former Lt. Colonel in the United States Marine Corps Reserve led the ceremony, saying, “I hope this is the last time we have to do this.”
Since Miranda’s passing, Mr. Cerbone has presented an award each year to members of his swim team who showed the same spirit as Miranda. This year, the award was given to Miranda’s two brothers, Kevin, a U.S. Marine and Alan, a member of the U.S. Navy.
Councilman Maurice Hill, a former U.S. Navy admiral said, “When something happens, there three things they want to know…Where are the carriers? Where are the Marines? Where are the SEALS?”
Mayor Kelaher, Councilman Hill and members of Miranda’s family unveiled the new sign which reads: PO [Petty Officer] 3 Denis. Miranda Memorial Highway. US NAVY SEAL. Killed in Action 21 September,[sic] 2010. Zabul Province, Afghanistan.
Mayor Thomas Kelaher addresses the audience during the dedication ceremony.
Congressman Maurice Hill presents Kevin Miranda with his U.S. Navy retirement coin, a tradition in the military.
Toms River High School East teacher Brian Cerbone presents Kevin and Alan Miranda with the Denis Miranda award.
The family of Denis Miranda.
Sign dedicated to USN PO3 Denis Miranda.
Joel Perlmutter presents a donation to the Wounder Warrior Project on behalf of Denis Miranda.