In September 1943, John Basilone returned from the Battle of Guadalcanal to his hometown of Raritan, New Jersey, to a hero’s welcome. Basilone was a United States Marine Corps sergeant who had recently been awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for his actions at Guadalcanal in October of 1942 and the people of Raritan were thrilled to honor their local war hero.

The U.S. Marine Corps had ordered Basilone back to the “home front” for a bond tour, but before the tour began he was sent to Raritan so his grateful town could throw a parade in his honor.

According to a piece written by a Raritan historian Bruce Doorly, more than 30,000 people — far more than Raritan’s population — attended the homecoming parade and subsequent rally. The parade was also covered by Life magazine and movie newsreels of the time. It was a true red carpet event.

Sgt. John Basilone’s “Welcome Home” Parade. (